Tired of an apparently never ending barrage of bland puzzle games that seem content to rehash the ol’ Match-3 formula without ever really contributing much in the way of innovation or originality to the genre? Well, never fear folks, because Spearhead Entertainment’s Captain Puzzle (out now, $0.99) is here to save the day with a colorful comic book aesthetic, tongue-in-cheek titular character who, hilariously, looks like a cross between Superman and Johnny Bravo, and over 50 levels of fun-packed action puzzling.
A cheesy (in a good way) animated comic strip proceeds the main event and provides our hero with his motivation for donning a tight fitting spandex costume to kick some bad guy butt and, of course, match up plenty of same-colored objects while he’s at it. Here’s the deal: villainous aliens have swiped your city’s power supply (some manner of magical golden stars), so it’s up to you to soar into action and save the world by obliterating these gurning orbs with an arsenal of special color-coded bombs.
If you hadn’t already guessed as much, the aim of each stage is to clear the screen of each and every enemy via a Bust-A-Move style matching mechanic. So gameplay boils down to figuring out the best strategy for linking up rows of same-colored foes in the littlest amount of moves possible, then carefully lining up your shots and letting loose with the explosives. Of course, as you progress, patterns become more complex, and you’ll have to master the art of skillfully ricocheting balls off walls in order to eliminate hard to reach groups of enemies.
Played out against the backdrop of various locales – high above the city streets, within a dingy nuclear complex and more – Captain Puzzle’s match ’em up action strikes a well observed balance between being accessible enough to appeal to younger players and, thanks to an added ‘achieve a three star ranking for every level’ incentive, also posing a meaty challenge to hardened puzzle fanatics. Naturally, the game comes packing the usual array of Openfeint and Game Center goodies too.
Okay, okay, gameplay wise, Captain Puzzle doesn’t exactly bring anything revolutionary to the table, but I challenge puzzle fans not to fall for this well made Match-3’s unabashedly goofy premise and fine line in visual gags (Cap’s funky celebratory hip swinging dance every time you successfully complete a level is almost worth the asking price alone!).
iFanzine Verdict: A heroic attempt at putting a fresh, fun spin on the Match-3 puzzle genre that impresses with vibrant visuals, accessible and addictive gameplay and a decent showing of levels. Recommended!