Sometimes the simplest things are the ones that bring the most joy. There aren't many games that are simpler than Match Panic [$0.99], but that's a big part of its charm.

Here's how the game plays: adorable pixel sprites make a line down the screen. Identical sprites are shown on both sides of the screen, and its your job to tap the side of the screen that matches the sprite in the middle. Does it get any more straightforward than that?

But don't jump to conclusions—Match Panic is harder than it sounds. Without lives to contend with, you're free to make mistakes, but you have to beat the clock. It's easy at first, but time gets tight as you reach higher and higher levels. You've got to be fast, and you can't spare the seconds mistakes cost you. Now you're probably thinking that you're some kind of pro matcher who'd never make an error, but try saying that when there are three sprites on one side of the screen, two on the other and a clock ticking down the seconds. This is some seriously frantic matching action.

For all you meta-gamers, there's a lot more replayability than you might think. The first challenge is to unlock all the sprites by hitting level or match milestones. They get shuffled into play and make it that much harder to keep track of where your fingers should be tapping. You'll also want to push your scores on the Game Center leaderboards, which track high scores, bonus time, streaks and total matches. Then there are the achievements, which challenge you to play creatively, quickly and carefully.

I was pretty charmed by the trailers for Match Panic, so I'm thrilled that the game is so good. When I have a little time to kill, I put a song with a good beat on my iPod and get right to matching. I love Chaotic Box's Silverfish [$1.99], and Match Panic confirms that the one-man dev studio is chock full of good ideas. Our forum users agree: this is a game that's simple to pick up, but so hard to put down.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • LoveMachine

    i agree. love both the games!

  • Anonymous

    This game is really fun. It actually picks up difficulty very fast too. Very addicting.

  • Anonymous

    Two personal anecdotes that didn't really fit in the review: I showed Match Panic to a friend at a party this weekend, and didn't get my phone back until the game had been passed around so long that my battery died. People get *right* into this.

    Also, get as zen as you can when playing this game. I picked up my best score to date while almost passing out at like 3 in the morning. So many perfect levels in a row.

  • Peri

    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 2.0px 0.0px; line-height: 28.0px; font: 24.0px Arial; color: #333233}

    How is "chaos" adorable? Isn't the game itself (the sprites, etc.) adorable rather than the chaotic play?

    Better title: Adorable, Chaotic Matching Action

    • Mrsmartiepants

      So long as we're being pedants, why do the tops of all of your posts contain out of place CSS elements?

      • Peri

        Chrome.

  • Mrsmartiepants

    I'd like to see this be Universal.

  • omg

    cant stop playing this - so simple yet awesome lol

  • Dubdubdubdub

    woohoo! I'm world champion at the moment :D love this simple game!

    • http://twitter.com/ChaoticBox Frank Condello

      Your top score is CRAZY :D I'd love to see a video of a run 200K+ run! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Hall/717433594 Matthew Hall

    Just stumbled on this game earlier.  LOVE.

Critter Panic! Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4