SideSwype ($1.99) by Radiangames is a minimalistic matching puzzle game that will keep you entertained for a long time. If you enjoyed Threes!, but don’t want to deal with the numbers involved, then you may enjoy SideSwype.
I spent a good amount of time on Threes!, and even though I am nowhere near as good as other people, I did enjoy it quite a lot. However, sometimes I don’t really want to deal with math or numbers, but am more into the color-matching scene. SideSwype fits that bill quite well, and the gameplay is different enough so that it is not just a clone of Threes!, as you may think from quick screenshots. In fact, the gameplay is quite refreshing, and the perfect mix of four-way block sliding (a la Threes!) and match-three.
The visuals in the game are simplistic, featuring a bit of pixelated goodness that reminds me of classic arcade games. The game features a blocky font that is still pretty easy to read, and the tiles themselves are minimalistic, though the little explosion into pixel bits when they’re cleared off the board are quite delightful. The animations in the game when you slide blocks around are smooth and fluid, and new tile spawns come in with a beautiful little blooming transition.
The game also features a soothing ambient soundtrack that is quite lovely to listen to, and also has fun sound effects as you slide and clear out tiles, though both can be turned off in the options if needed. There are actually two different songs that can play in the background (Fire or Ice), and you can choose it in the game option menu.
So what’s the gameplay about? There is a 5×5 game board on the screen, and there are colored two different colors of tiles that will spawn randomly on it. The idea is to match these blocks in groups of at least three or more to clear them out and make room for new spawns. The matches must be in the same row or column to count. To move these tiles around to one side of the board, just swipe horizontally or vertically to move all blocks at once (blocks will move only if there is space to do so; a full row or column won’t budge but the other blocks will).
Of course, things would be boring if it were only matching three. There will be special tiles that have a “4” or “5” on them, and they will require matches of at least four or five, respectively, in a row or column, but never a mix. If you can successfully match these, they will reward you with the special diamond and bomb blocks in return. The Diamond tile will clear adjacent tiles and give you a bonus, while the Bomb will have a wider range of about 10 blocks. You also have a preview of the next batch of colored tiles that will appearing, so you can strategically plan ahead.
As you play, SideSwype will give you a breakdown at the top after each successful move you make. This will show you how many points you racked up with that move, along with how many blocks you matched, the number of matches, and any bonuses you received (from those power-up tiles). This is actually a really nice feature, as it helps you understand why your score is the way it is. I wish this appeared in more games, but so far this is the only game I’ve ever seen this show up in.
Since the game isn’t timed, you can play at your own pace. I recommend taking your time on it and planning your moves out for the best possible scores. You can even take a break and come back to the game at any time, and your progress should still be there.
In the beginning, there is only one color theme that you will have, which I thought was rather ugly. However, the more you play and the more points you accumulate, the more themes you will unlock. There are a total of six, and you can choose the one you like from the option menu. The ones that you can choose will appear bright and vivid, while ones you still need to earn are dimmed out.
SideSwype features Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements. If the game’s high replay value isn’t enough for you, then perhaps the 10 progress-tracking achievements could help keep you hooked. Plus, this is the perfect type of game to be competitive with others.
So far, I’m really enjoying SideSwype. It’s the perfect little mobile game, since the gameplay is easy to pick up quickly and you can even play with one hand. The match-three gameplay is enough to differentiate it from Threes! and all of those clones, and the various color themes and music are quite appealing. I’ll definitely be coming back to this one over and over again.
I recommend picking this up if you’re in the mood for a match-three block sliding puzzle game this week. You can get it on the App Store as a universal download for $1.99.