The best part of my job is randomly stumbling across a game no one knows about, by a developer no one has heard of, and have it absolutely blow my mind. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it results in drained batteries and dropping everything to get something on the site about it while I wait for my iPhone to charge only to return to the fray. 10000000 [$2.99] popped up on the Hot New Games list on the TouchArcade App [Free] this afternoon (True story!) and, as usual, I downloaded it to give it a spin. I lost most of my afternoon and the better part of this evening to 10000000, and I'd do it all again (and probably will tomorrow).

Developed by EightyEight Games, 10000000 feels like a spiritual successor to Dungeon Raid, another favorite of mine. Its core mechanic hinges around a simple matching game. Where Dungeon Raid had you drawing lines to match tiles, 10000000 instead has you swiping to move entire rows of tiles either up and down or across. This mechanic has been done countless times before on the App Store, most notably in PopCap's Chuzzle [$2.99]. Also like Dungeon Raid, this matching element is merely the engine that drives a much, much deeper game.

Check out the following TA Plays video where I walk Brad through how it works (It's easier to see what's going on if you kick it into full screen and HD):

In a nutshell, the top side scroller looking area of the screen is a cleverly disguised timer and health bar. Your character runs through a dungeon, and all of his actions are controlled by the blocks you match. Need to unlock a door or a chest? Match some keys. A monster blocking your path? Physical attacks are executed by matching swords while magical attacks fire off by matching staves. Standing still by not matching causes the timer to tick down, pushing your character to the left, and getting hit by monsters also pushes you to the left. The damage aspect can be mitigated by matching shields, which are absorbed instead of pushing your character. Fall off the side of the screen and it's game over.

To supplement these mechanics are a set of shockingly deep loot, item, upgrade, and experience systems. Monsters can drop loot, and you can also get loot by matching backpack tiles or unlocking chests. Loot can either be gold to buy upgrades or actual usable items. A few items you'll come across are a red orb that'll damage whatever monster is in front of you, a key to instantly unlock a chest or doorway blocking your path, scrolls to spawn more tiles of a certain type on the board, and much more.

The other two types of tiles are wood and stone. These are used to upgrade your castle, and by collecting these resources you'll unlock additional rooms your character can enter to do things like buy persistent bonuses, a better sword, stronger magic, and more. Swords and spells are bought with gold you earn, while persistent abilities (such as matching wood or stone adding time to the timer) are purchased with experience points.

It's seriously just silly how much is going behind the scenes of such a simple looking matching game. As you rank up, you face tougher opponents, but are rewarded with higher point multipliers. Oh, and there's even a Jetpack Joyride [Free] style objective system where there will be three goals each time you play, completing them awards bonus gold. Also, even though your dungeon run will inevitably end in death, you keep all of your upgrades and even unused items for your next run. This invokes a fantastic sense of progression, compared to Dungeon Raid, where a death means starting over.

The strategy that goes in to playing this game well is downright incredible. The balancing act you need to execute is crazy, as you need to keep the game board in a constant state of readiness to fight monsters, unlock a door, and/or restore your shields. Meanwhile, backpack, stone, and wood tiles are randomly interspersed with your new tiles. These are useful, but not in the heat of battle. So, when your character is running forward you need to focus on matching backpacks, stone, and wood, all while making sure you're not accidentally clearing keys, shields, swords, and staves. If you focus too much on resource collection, chances are you'll be beaten to death by a monster or time will run out while you're trying to unlock a door. Similarly, if you focus on the tiles vital to dungeon crawling, you can wind up in a situation where you've got no way to attack because the game board is filled with resource tiles.

It's gloriously hectic.

The only down side for us Dungeon Raid veterans, if you'd even call it that, is that character customization seems to be lacking. So far, your upgrade path is fairly linear in you basically just buy the bonuses and upgrades you can afford. This could change deeper into the game, although what I've seen so far doesn't make me think it has anywhere near the customization of Dungeon Raid. Also, oddly enough, there's no pause functionality. If you need to pause while you're playing, the only thing you can really do is double tap the home button to bring up the multitasking bar. A weird omission, sure, but most games are short enough that it doesn't seem like it'd be much of an issue.

I can't wait to find out what happens when I hit 10,000,000 points in 10000000. After each game your point total goes into a running tally labeled "FREEDOM." [Edit: your point score is your high score ever achieved in one run, not a total.] There's a part of me that hopes its something awesome, and, another part of me that hopes it's just like Desert Bus [$0.99] and when you hit your goal your actual score merely increments by one. Either way, it's going to take a lot of playing to find out.

The chiptune soundtrack in 10000000 pairs perfectly with the retro art style, and the game is even universal. It seems to play equally well on both the iPhone and iPad, although iCloud save game synchronization is sadly lacking. Regardless, I still can't believe just how good this game is. Its non-descript name and even vaguer icon left me with no clue as to what to expect, but I've found a new love on the App Store. 10000000 scratches the itch of a quick puzzle game that works fantastic on touch screens all while having a much larger and much deeper purpose to every game session.

This is a game you need. In fact, download it, tell two friends to download it, and tell them to do the same. You won't be disappointed.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • tim240

    Never judge a book by its cover! I was hesitant with this app but once I tried it, I was instantly hooked!

  • http://twitter.com/dtstro Stro

    Well deserved of a 5 star review.

  • drloony

    I can't pound the buy button fast enough. Dungeon Raid was a gem but this sounds like the match game to rule them all.

  • geoelectric

    I quit reading the review just so I can experience everything new. You had me at "spiritual successor to Dungeon Raid." Powerful words, hope you used them with great responsibility! ;)

  • http://twitter.com/CygnetSeven John Odell

    Great write up for a great game. Thanks Hodie.

  • TheCurrentGamer

    I am loving this game. It's always a nice surprise to get such a good game, for such a cheap price. This is why I game mobile mostly now. (well that and a few others... Ok more than a few...

    • Gagapokerface

      I hear ya, man. I'm a die hard Nintendo fan, and while I'll always own whatever they're putting out, games like this have me spending more and more time on my iPhone or iPad.

  • thefold

    Well colour me interested. I'll be picking this up on Tuesday when my bank account looks a little more healthy.

  • RunnyGnome

    Should I buy this or wait for Organ Trail and The Day I Tried? I'm really stumped on this one, as all these games look pretty frogging good.

    • Gagapokerface

      Dig through the couch cushions and grab 'em all!

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestSzoka Ernest Szoka

    Haha, I love it when an underdog developer with bad graphics/awesome gampelay get's noticed, gives me hope. This game looks awesome, getting it now!

  • Troy Woodfield

    Cool vid guys.  Looks fun. Downloading.... 

  • Flan

    This game is a blast. Thanks for posting it

  • lancheta

    Holy monkeys I'm loving this game...I understand why they call it 10,000,000. Many sleepless nights ahead!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.vischansky Ian Vischansky

    I was planning on playing Chaos Rings on my vacation but looks like this little $2.00 gem is going to steal the show.

  • NPeart

    This looks like INSTABUY!!!! 

  • Brimah

    And Eli makes me spend another well
    Spent $2. Thanks!

  • kendahlj

    This looks like the exact game I've been looking for...thanks for the review.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/U4ILUUKG4DG2UHRDK5V62EHV3Q Johan

    Love the concept, but the execution is frustrating. I'm playing this on a 3GS, could have something to do with it, but the swiping of tiles isn't smooth. Too often I overshoot or miss the target column/row, so nothing happens. A better or smarter snap would go a long way.

    • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

       Yeah, or maybe touch a tile and swipe to a location, and where you lift your finger is where that tile goes.  A game like this shouldn't make you worry about lining up tiles perfectly - it should be smart enough to know your intent, if that makes sense. 

  • alyfantis

    I love when stuff like this happens in the app store. I bought this yesterday not knowing anything about it, and I was crossing my fingers hoping it wasn't a waste of $2. And today found me wondering how much more playtime I could squeeze in before my students started arriving and I'd have to start work. Consider me completely addicted.

  • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

    So, what if you just start going wild with the matching?  Can you match stuff as your character is moving forward?  My first urge is to go all Montezuma on this and match everything as quickly as possible.

    • justln

      You need to save the keys to unlock chests/doors, swords against ranged and magic against melee enemies.
      The rocks and experience should be cleared when possible to make space for new tiles

      • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

         Oooh, cool :)

  • andersnoren

    Nice work bringing this into the spotlight! Great game.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

    "Also, even though your dungeon run will inevitably end in death, you
    keep all of your upgrades and even unused items for your next run. This
    invokes a fantastic sense of progression, compared to Dungeon Raid, where a death means starting over."

    Sold!

  • Michael Smith

    This game is rad!

  • rodgerodger

    Good game, but Dungeon Raid is definitely still the better game. I do like the progression in 10mill, but the core puzzle mechanic is better in Dungeon Raid. I'm also not a fan of 10mil's "retro" aesthetic. Still, a worthy purchase.

  • KenGriffeyIII

    Man this game sounds awesome and I JUST broke my iPhone. Jailbreak with caution, kids. Jailbreak with caution.

    • Zeldaniac

      Key word: jailbreak. Just do it with caution. It's so worth it. Hoping this game is, too.

  • GameGuy

    Downloading!  Thanks for reviewing these otherwise unseen titles.

  • lancheta

    I hope EightyEight Games can implement game center to compare scores. I'm curious to see how everyone else is doing.

  • http://twitter.com/crunchewy Crunchewy

    I like it, but I also find it frustrating. Sometimes there's just nothing obvious in the grid and I end up dying because of it. Still I kept going back into that darn dungeon.

  • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

    Nice one Hodapp. The game's already 31 on the paid charts. The developer expected to sell less than 50 copies of the game. Pretty amazing.

  • slamraman

    This and Bitless are unexpected beauties this week. Fantastic.

  • omideus

    Great concept for a "I got two free mins!"

    My thought while watching the video was that a great way to add personality/variety would have been to go the Gauntlet route using those character arctypes.

    The elf ranger is fast and can shoot at a distance. The barbarian warrior is slow but has a strong attack and won't be forced to move backward as much. The Mage is slow but can hit more than one mob. And the Valkarie is average and can open chests easier.

    Then you could replace the swords and wands with the characters weapon icon...

    Just got me thinking out loud!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    5 star all the way

  • Boobi

    Very addictive!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nickvargish Nick Vargish

    Great game, great review, thanks for finding this gem for us!

    I don't think it's a running tally though, I think it's your high score. You'll need to get 10,000,000 in one run to win "Freedom"...

  • Charles Bandes

    I bought it but I can't get past how ugly it is :( I know it's a superficial thing, but it matters.

    • http://blakespot.com/ blakespot

      I love the look. 

    • http://twitter.com/snowy2004 Stéphane Lachance

      I find the look more retro than cheep.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-D-Dunn/679068624 James D. Dunn

    Spot on review. I really enjoy this game and has been a time eater from the second I bought it. 

  • mclifford82

    I can't stop playing this game!  I just wish I could share progress between devices.

    • unfrozenjon

      Agreed, iCloud sync would be great.

      But wow, this game is awesome. I think Dungeon Raid my now slip into one of my folders now.

  • Endless Mode

    Great game. Took me 6hrs 42mins to complete over a rainy weekend. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2LAOSXX4OBY3VTWNOO34VGHUZ4 andrea

    Just completed!!! I''m free now!! Two days playing all the time... Night and day. This is a GREAT game!

  • http://twitter.com/macconsumer Winston Tsang

    I'm not sure if it's a bug in the game or not... seems like it is.

    I leveled up all the buildings, bought all the upgrades and completed all the quests... and now I can't advance anymore.

    I'm stuck at 7,670,680 points and need 10,000,000 for "freedom".

    I'm not using any potions to stop my score, xp, etc.

    Seems like a bug to me as I can't "reset" the game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719042278 Mike Renwick

      Same problem

    • Dave Follansbee

      Exact same thing happened to me. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/rypaterson Ryan Paterson

      me too. wtf

  • http://twitter.com/ialienated Bart W

    where did my 10h go?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.crews.96 Mike Crews

    Earned my FREEDOM last night! Scored 11,927,873! ^.^

  • Frank Hopewell-Smith

    Getting to 1000,000 was a bit of anti-climax - other than that great game. 

10000000 Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 5