As a mobile gamer you might not be familiar with PopCap Games, but there's a strong chance you know its titles: Bejeweled, Zuma and AstroPop, to name but three.
The company started life making casual games for the Web and PC, but in recent years has licensed out its biggest hits to mobile publishers like Glu Mobile and EA Mobile. Now, however, PopCap is making a big move into mobile under its own steam, with the release of Chuzzle Mobile – the first mobile game it's developed entirely in-house.
"We've been involved in mobile for three or four years, and the games have been very successful," Andrew Stein, director of mobile business development, told us. "The same things that make them so compelling on a PC or the Web allow them to easily convert to the mobile platform. They're easy to pick up and play, the game mechanics are very straightforward, they have simple controls, and the challenge progression keeps them constantly compelling."
Chuzzle Mobile is effectively a statement of intent on PopCap's part, to flex its newly-unveiled mobile muscles. The game sees you sliding rows of furry little creatures (yes, Chuzzles) along vertically or horizontally, to create matching sets of three or more of the same colour.
The game will have four modes, including Classic (the original game), Expert (a harder version), Mind-Bender (make specific patterns with the Chuzzles) and Zen (endless mode without levels or time-limits).
We've been playing a finished version for a week now, and it's looking superb – with the attention-to-detail marking it out from a lot of samey 'match-three' puzzle games on mobile.
"It's been enormously successful on PC and in downloadable forms, and from a gameplay perspective it works really well on the phone," says Stein. "We've added some mobile-specific features, too, letting players set the matching and action controls to automatic, to give them flexibility in how they configure the game. And of course, graphically it's very cute and adorable!"
Interestingly, Chuzzle Mobile doesn't mean an end to PopCap working with mobile games publishers – Stein says the company will carefully choose when to release its own games, and when to partner. Meanwhile, PopCap may even consider creating some games for mobile first, before other platforms.
"We're primarily looking at games based on PopCap IP that have been released on PC or Web, or will be," he says. "But as we get a sense of where the market is going, we may create games for mobile, or have concepts that are first for mobile."
We'll have a review of Chuzzle Mobile for you soon, so click 'Track It!' for an alert to see if it can measure up to our first impressions.