Ka-Bloom ($0.99) by BBC Worldwide is a vivid puzzle game that is easy to grasp, but difficult to master. You’ll need quick fingers to chain these gems together.
At first sight, you can’t help but fall in love with the presentation of Ka-Bloom. The vivid colors, the cutesy main character, the simple yet fluid animations, and the catchy tunes all come together to create a warm and up-beat atmosphere. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to play a game. All of that is combined with gameplay that gets more complex as you progress through the cosmos.
This game is all about linking gems together to feed Floret, a hungry, flower-like star. Each level presents you with various gems, coins, and other objects placed around the screen that you must link together and feed to Floret. The tricky thing is that you only have a limited amount of links that you can make at once (three to start out with). As Floret eats the gems, you get those links back and go from there. Links are made by dragging your finger from gem to gem, and you can break links by swiping across them.
As you progress from galaxy to galaxy (a galaxy is a set of around nine levels) levels become more complex, forcing you to devise new strategies to feed Floret. One technique that you learn early on is “hotlinking." As Floret eats a chain, the last element of the chain is basically on fire. If you are quick enough, you can link this flaming element to another chain that would normally be out of reach, and Floret will chomp away as usual. Hotlinking is pretty difficult to master, and it makes you think on a different level when you start making chains.
In terms of length, Ka-Bloom offers a total of 56 levels spread across six galaxies. Each level is scored on a three star basis. You get one star for finishing the level, one for beating the target score, and one for eating everything. The first two stars are pretty easy to get, but the third one is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Each of the stars that you gain can be used for upgrades for the max number of chains you can make, the max number of objects you can have in a chain, or the max range of your links.
Ka-Bloom is a game that thrives on its simplicity. While the visuals and controls are basic, the puzzles become complex very quickly. The large number of levels and the challenge of earning three stars will keep you occupied for a long time to come. If that isn’t enough, there are 35 Game Center achievements for you to earn, and OpenFeint leaderboards for each level as well. In future updates I would love to see more levels, Game Center leaderboards (not sure why this isn’t included already), and possibly even a multiplayer battle mode. There’s no telling where this game will end up, but it definitely belongs on your device.