My first minutes with HypnoBlocks [$0.99] were pathetic, floundering things. I looked at it as a puzzle, with reaching the end of each level as my goal. I didn't make it far, so I tried again. After a few abortive attempts, I reconsidered my approach. Was it about reaching the highest level, or reaching the highest score? That's when everything clicked -- this isn't a game about getting the farthest you can, no matter the cost. It's a game about sustaining perfection as long as possible.
Though it looks like one, HypnoBlocks isn't quite a match 3. You are pressed to match colors, but not in lines or patterns. Instead you tap blocks as they form into a rotating cube -- it doesn't matter where they are, just that you match them. After a moment, those block disappear. You have a few seconds after that to make another match and build your combo. If you're too slow, your combo fades. If you tap a mismatched block, your combo also fades.
That combo is all that really matters. Not only does it increase the score you earn from each match, but at the end of each level it multiplies the bonus you earn. If you manage to maintain it throughout the entire level but lose it on the last match, you'll lose what may be a ridiculous quantity of points. So perfection is needed, yes. And speed -- you also earn bonuses based on the seconds remaining on the clock. Let it run down before reaching the end of the level and you're done, game over, high score noted.
This is made more complicated by the obstacles HypnoBlocks throws in your way. Each block is surrounded on several sides by a dark barrier. In order to see the color of the block beneath, you need to rotate your view around the cube. If you lose sight of the other blocks you wanted to match, you'd best hope your memory is accurate. You'll also need to deal with spikes that plant themselves throughout the cube. Even grazing one will kill your combo.
When all these factors come together, you'll find a fast-paced game with scores that will explode almost exponentially as you improve. Eventually the leaderboards will be dominated by those who can sustain perfection through every level in the hardest difficulty mode, but for now it's still the Wild West out there. You can make a mark just by being particularly good at a handful of levels.
My one wish is for a little more content. There are three difficulty modes, two of which are unlocked while playing, and twelve Game Center achievements. But once you burn through those, there isn't much else to keep you busy when you hit a plateau with your score. This seems like a game that's just begging for more - more achievements, unlockable themes, anything to keep things interesting as you fight for first place on the leaderboards. The game is undeniably fun, but I don't see it having much lasting appeal.
Still, while the experience lasts it's well worth the price of admission. Ambrosia Software has put together an excellent package, with slick graphics, good sound and perfectly precise multi-touch controls. Once it clicks it becomes hypnotically intense, and rather hard to put down. But do put it down long enough to share your thoughts in our discussion thread, okay?
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