Puzzle gamers (especially those with hoarding/collecting tendencies) will be pleased to hear that Bight Games' Puzzlings [App Store] has been released. We had a sneak peek at the game back at WWDC where it was described as a console-quality puzzle adventure.
At its core, Puzzlings is a Match-3 but offers both swapping and rotating mechanisms to achieve matches. Instead of just swapping adjacent tiles, however, you are able to reverse entire lines by simply dragging your finger across. Draw a square and that entire field will rotate. The controls for the game work very well with the iPhone's touch screen interface and the game does exude a console level of quality. The game adds difficulty by introducing larger shapes (2x1 and 2x2) that can only be moved in specific ways.
The entire game is centered around a campaign mode in which you travel across Wardrobia unlocking new clothing, accessories and even body parts for your Puzzling avatar. The unlockables come quickly (too quickly?) and you can choose to equip your puzzling right away with the new item or save it for later.
Each of the 8 provinces contains a number of levels of different types: arcade, puzzle house, and arcade challenge stages. The goal of the arcade stages is to match quickly enough to fill the combometer which continuously drains. Meanwhile, puzzle house stages offer a different type of challenge in which you must clear the board within a set number of moves. The fewer the better.
Overall, the game offers such a causal matching experience that it may actually be a turn-off for more experienced gamers. The early provinces in the game are quite easy and it isn't until about half-way through that the levels start to become more challenging. And while high-score and speed stats are recorded for each level, they are recorded entirely separately from the levels themselves -- so you don't know if you just beaten a previous score unless you keep close tabs on the stats screen yourself. Meanwhile, a lack of endless mode in this initial release will also leave you replaying the harder levels over and over for a bit of a challenge. Rather than score, the driving force in the game is to play to completion in order to collect all the unlockables, which requires the completion of all arcade, challenge and puzzle levels within the designated time limits (or number of moves for puzzle).
It does occur to me that all this fits quite well with a target of a younger or non-gamer crowd. And, certainly, for those looking for a fun and casual distraction with a ton of collectibles, this is easily the game to get. The controls and overall gaming experience are incredibly well executed. But, if you're looking for ongoing challenges and motivated by high score achievements (rather than collectables), this game may not satisfy you in its current form.
App Store Link: Puzzlings, $2.99 (intro price)