If you're still into match-3 games, give Triple Town a shot. It's a fresh take on the style of puzzle game that doesn't mess with the purity of the mechanic, but it does do a good job integrating and introducing an interesting wrinkle: town building.
You might have heard of this one already. It has seen a couple of releases across other platforms, including Kindle and Facebook. The latter one should give you an idea of what to expect, actually. This is a free-to-play game with "social" game hooks, much like any other title on the social networking site. Where it departs is that it seems to feed off its best players in a particularly non-aggressive way. On iOS, you can just play and not worry. At least, that's been my experience with it so far.
Your usual game goes something like this: each grid-based instance is a new, fairly unremarkable world that you need to fill by matching three alike items. Match three grasses to assemble a bush, and then match those bushes to make trees. The catch is that you'll be given these tools at random and you can only "store" on piece at a time. Also, you can't move any of the game's pieces around; you can only put items down next to pre-existing items, which introduces turn-based thinking.
There's more to it. After some bush laying, you'll run across your first bear, which is a piece that you need to isolate around other pieces in order to kill it. Line up three dead bears, and you get a building. (I don't understand it, either.)
Higher-level play involves doing all of this and using its currency functionality, which allows you to buy more moves on a single board -- and if you're just OK at the game, you won't really be running to the well -- and buying pieces that you need. The IAP will let you buy more coins or turns for real-life dough.
Triple Town has created a bit of buzz on our boards and ... some grumbling, too. The game's lead designer is chiming in on the IAP specifically, revealing that it has been balanced to limit even hypothetical millionaires from slaughtering the high score boards.
"... In general a more skilled player will always get a better scores than a less skilled player, even if someone buys every item in the store," he writes. "Triple Town often seems like a simple game on the surface, but there is an immense amount of depth and strategy..."
"To make things even more fair, there are only a limited number of items in the store. Even if you were a millionaire, the best that would get you is the ability to play more often but you wouldn't be able to buy your way to a high score."
He adds that he sees a lot of "expert" dudes who never buy items, but he also sees people who buy more stuff because they like the game. I haven't felt pressured to buy anything yet, so if your IAP alarm went off, go ahead and relax.
Triple Town is free, so give it a try. It's a solid match-3 with a cool new element that I think anyone with an itch for this kind of puzzle game will dig. We'll have a review ready soon. Also, those bears! So cute.
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