It’s often said that there’s nothing new in music. Whether you’re talking rock, pop, or electronica, it’s all just the same notes played in a different order.
Of course, there’s still a way for any musician to stand out from the crowd: be really good. If you can’t offer anything different, offer something more.
Collapse won’t win any awards for innovation, but it succeeds in such an overcrowded genre by offering more polish, more gameplay variation, more rewards, and more customisation.
Of course, none of this would matter a jot if it was built on shaky foundations, but the gameplay underneath Collapse’s dazzling exterior is hewn out of granite.
It goes a little something like this: the obligatory field of coloured blocks creeps up the screen one unit at a time. You have to click on groups of three or more blocks of a single colour in order to make them disappear, with surrounding blocks slotting into the vacant space.
The game starts to get interesting when you factor in the bonuses. Clearing blocks of each colour consecutively, for example, grants you a Rainbow Clearance bonus, complete with extra points, while you also get boosts for clearing the entire screen or for clearing a sequence quickly.
Season to taste
Further seasoning is added by the achievements you receive at the end of each level, rewarding you for precise play or for a dominant round.
Then there’s the enjoyable structure provided by the Quest mode, which sees you moving through an exotic, cartoony land accepting challenges.
This introduces additional modes of play (such as Puzzle mode, which asks you to clear a single full screen in a set number of moves) and entertaining boss battles (large beasties who interfere with your blocks in various ways).
Your route through each level is a twisting one, with regular splits in the road offering up a degree of choice. You can also purchase power-ups from shops and unlock outfits, which allow you to customise your chirpy blue avatar (I liked the bee suit).
There’s plenty more we could talk about with Collapse - such as its neat interaction with the PC version - which, given its humble match-three origins, is indicative of the huge amount of effort that’s gone into making it special.
While we’ve seen mobile puzzlers that are fresher, more ingenious and more addictive than Collapse, few are as polished or as generous with their content.