Tetris is not only one of the best known games, but it’s also one of the most popular. It can be played on almost every console, computer, handheld system, or mobile phone ever made. We’re not reviewing Tetris though, we’re going to talk about Matchagon, a clever mash-up of Tetris and Connect 4. It requires similar skills to play, and anyone who was good at Tetris, will be good at Matchagon.
We’ve been playing the game on the iPhone, and are a little surprised it hasn’t caught on in the same way as another game with which it shares some similarities: Dots. It’s incredibly simple to play, doesn’t require any practice before getting the hang of it, and can easily be played using one hand.
Here’s how to play. Different coloured octagons appear at the top of the screen, waiting for you to drag them across and drop them into a six-by-five grid. Stack them vertically and when you’ve got three of the same colour in a row, they consolidate down into a single octagon, freeing up valuable space on the screen. However, if you line three up horizontally or diagonally, they disappear entirely.
Points are racked up faster this way, and it’s possible to create some combos as the pieces fall into new spots. Stacking vertically is obviously less desirable, but to encourage you to use this mechanism, it’s possible to multi-stack the pieces. Once the third stack is complete, the octagon becomes a wildcard, and can be used as any colour you like. Like Tetris, there’s an icon at the top of the screen telling you which colour octagon is coming next, so you can start to plan out a strategy. If you’re really good, it won’t be long before you’re racking up multiple combos.
The controls are simple. Drag the tile across the top, and let go to let it drop. The great thing is, it’s perfectly playable using only one hand, making it ideal for trips using public transport. Its simplicity makes it addictive too, and after only one turn, you’ll know everything that’s needed to play it well.
There are two modes, normal and hard. Select the hard mode and a black octagon with a cross in the centre will drop randomly. These can’t be removed, and the game certainly becomes more of a challenge. Matchagon works better in mormal mode though, and is quite relaxing. Hard mode is more annoying.
Graphically, things are simple, but the game runs smoothly and the minimalist design keeps you focused on the game. Sonically things are more impressive. The custom soundtrack suits the laid back atmosphere, and sounds great over headphones. The app has Game Center integration, complete with a variety of achievements to earn, and a leaderboard to top. Matchagon is also universal for the iPhone and the iPad.
Although the app is free to download, there is a limit on how many games you can play in a row. After three turns, a 10 minute timer shows up, and you must wait until it reaches zero before continuing. If this sounds harsh, the way to remove the timer is to pay for the app. It’s only £0.69, so it won’t break the bank, plus it gets rid of the ads at the same time. Paying for the upgrade isn’t essential though, and the casual player will find the time limit doesn’t spoil their fun. It’s not quite Tetris, but Matchagon is an enjoyable twist on the same theme. If you download this one, you won’t be disappointed.