The fear of turning up to a party and finding yourself wearing the same clothes as someone else is one of those concerns that speaks more of wanting to feel unique and relevant in an overcrowded world than wanting to be fashionable.
Match-three titles on the other hand seem almost afraid of being seen as different to the big Alpha male at the mobile party, Bejeweled - copying its look, style and habit of dropping words like ‘Blitz’ into everyday conversation to sound down with PopCap’s sales behemoth.
Yet if the average, run-of-the-mill match-three represents the desperate hangers-on, Puzzlings is the too-cool-for-school type that mocks Bejeweled from afar while taking a few ideas from it and its little brother, Twist, when it suits it.
Line ‘em up
The main bulk of the game is spent matching three similar coloured items on a board, causing them to disappear, and then repeating the process with a new batch that drops in.
This can be done either by swapping adjacent blocks or through Puzzlings’s own unique method of swapping. By drawing a line across the screen, for instance, you swap everything around in sequence – a blue square on the far right of the selection swaps to the far left.
There’s also the option of spreading the selection so that it encompasses a square shape. Doing so allows the blocks to be rotated around clockwise, in a similar fashion to how Bejeweled Twist works only with the option of increasing the size to encompass 16 blocks as opposed to just the standard four.
Making matches raises the timer which, when it reaches the maximum value, unleashes the aforementioned ‘boss’ circle pieces into the playing area.
These four pieces need to be rotated, swapped, and matched up to form a the circle before the timer rushes down to zero, and represent the most stressful periods in the game.
It’s also pretty much the only difficult part in Puzzlings, too, as there’s no punishment for pushing blocks around without matching and the time limit is fairly generous as a whole, which undermines the threat from the two-square and four-square blocks when they make their appearance later in the game.
Along with the Story mode is a customisation mini-game that uses items unlocked as you progress through Wardrobia’s various regions to dress-up your Puzzling’s appearance in-between levels.
For some reason, it’s actually quite difficult not to make your initially cute creature into a terrifying monstrosity, which kind of takes the charm out of this potentially interesting little diversion.
Despite the disappointing customisation and general ease with which match-three veterans should be able to breeze through the Story mode, the unique controls and interesting new concepts make Puzzlings worth talking to should you see it hanging onto the wall of your mobile portal’s party.