In 1989, influenced by Tetris and tic-tac-toe, Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce created Klax, originally programmed in just a few weeks in Amiga Basic. Nearly 20 years later, Mark Stephen Pierce flying solo with the help of Super Happy Fun Fun released Star*Burst [App Store], a matching game with tons of particle effects and all the gameplay from classic Klax turned upside down as the rights to the original Klax seems to be trapped somewhere in Midway's bankruptcy-powered licensing purgatory.
If Klax was before your time, or you just never got around to pumping quarters in to a Klax machine, here's the basic gist of the Star*Burst-- Randomly spawning bricks come down a conveyor belt towards a paddle which can catch and hold up to five bricks at once. Moving your finger around controls the paddle, and swiping down throws a brick back up on to the conveyor belt, while tapping the paddle throws the brick up to the five by five grid at the top of the screen.
Blocks on the top of the screen are cleared by matching them horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and other more complicated layouts such as forming arrows, an X, or stars. The more blocks you clear the more points you earn, and as blocks are removed the existing blocks compress to fill any spaces that may have been created as blocks disappear-- Allowing you to chain massive combos (and earn point multipliers) if you can set them up.
When you get farther in to the game, wild blocks that will match any color and bomb blocks appear that can destroy nearby blocks on the grid. Just like Klax, achieving high scores involves thinking ahead and intelligently managing which blocks you keep on your paddle, which blocks you flip back up on to the conveyor belt, and how you arrange the blocks on the grid. The game is over when you either fail to catch five blocks from the conveyor belt, or you run out of spaces on the grid to place new blocks.
If you were a fan of the original Klax, you need to have Star*Burst on your iPhone. The touch controls work well, and really my only gameplay criticism is that the on-screen button to make the conveyor spit out blocks (the small square with two arrows near the top in screenshots) seems to be awkwardly positioned. You really only need to speed up the block conveyor in the earlier levels when blocks come slower, so this is a very minor issue.
Star*Burst has online scoring and tons of achievements, but unfortunately uses Facebook instead of Plus+ or OpenFeint so the online scoring/achievement functionality is fairly primative and seems to be limited to your Facebook friends and spamming your Facebook wall. With a better online scoring system, Star*Burst would be amazing.
App Store Link: Star*Burst, $1.99