The Nardio Review
Is Swapperoo Worth Your Time?
Yes if you like Match-3 puzzle games.
What Should I Play it On?
Swapperoo is currently available on iOS and Steam. You get the same great experience on both.
Why it Works and How it Plays:
I love Match-3 games, but I thought the genre had become far too saturated to introduce any new mechanics. Boy, was I wrong! Swapperoo uses the same idea of matching 3 or more tiles but adds a fun twist. You can’t simply move any block you want in any direction. You can only move the arrow tiles and only in the direction they are pointing. There are four directions: up, down, left or right. This adds a whole new layer to the game as you need to carefully navigate your tiles around the map to reach the goal. To make it even harder, skulls with numbers in them appear randomly on some tiles. If you don’t match it before the time runs out, it will explode and you’ll need to replay the level. The nice thing is the game gives you a little bit of time to make a match so it isn’t immediately game over if the skull reaches 0. You have about 3 seconds to match it before it explodes.
As the game progresses you encounter new tiles like a drill arrow tile that destroys instead of swapping, destroyable circle tiles and immovable tiles you cannot swap out.
The more matches you make of a particular shape the more you can use your power ups. You can only unlock each one by matching tiles:
- Swap – match arrow tiles. As the name suggests you are able to swap a tile with an adjacent one.
- Delay skull – match square tiles. You are able to delay the countdown on the skulls by 3 moves.
- Detonate – match circle tiles. Detonate the entire board and reset to a new one.
The goals of the level seem fairly easy but once you start playing you realize how difficult it can be, especially when you’re racing against moves. You think to yourself, “Yeah sure, I can match 12 left arrows now problem” until you realize you only have one move left before the map explodes and there are no left arrows you can match. The thing is, it never gets frustratingly hard. Sure, I had to replay levels several times before I made it through, but it was still fun. There’s no move (besides matching the skulls) or time limit so you can take as much time as you want thinking over your next move. I definitely took my sweet time as it took me around 5 hours to just beat the normal mode of the game. Plus, it’s not like you need the added tension. There’s already enough thanks to the skulls and, later on, the giant eye trying to eat the heart tiles.
Although this is a single player game, there’s a level of competitiveness to it thanks to the leader board that pops up when you complete a level. You get to see the Top 3 players and your number. While I never made it to the top, there was one time I made it in the Top 20. That made me irrationally happy.
There’s also a semblance of a story here with a few lines of text before the start of a level. It seems like there’s some glitch AI trying to escape. I’m guessing more is revealed in hard mode, so I suppose I’ll need to set aside a couple nights to complete the game.
Like the story, the graphics are pretty minimal, but they still manage to be visually appealing thanks to the bright colors and simple design of the tiles. Even without any instruction, you immediately know how each tile works for the most part or at least the general idea. The game designers definitely understand what reactions certain images evoke for example skull equals death or danger. The background music and sound effects for the game really round out the entire experience. Again, they are quite minimal. The background music is pleasant light jazz or what others might consider elevator music. The sound effects are simple but welcome. The drill sounds when you destroy something with your drill tile or the little ‘eek’ sound effects when you match the giant eye tiles make the levels that much more vibrant.
The only drawback of the game is the randomly generated levels. There were times it seemed like the board was unbeatable. I found myself restarting certain levels a couple times because there just didn’t seem to be any chance of victory. It would have been nice if it was a set layout each time. That way you can really learn how to beat the level in fewer moves. Or perhaps the randomization is part of the overarching story. I guess I’ll need to see to find out.