Whether you’re swapping gems, fruit, blocks, or skulls, the most interchangeable thing about match-three puzzlers is the games themselves.
One line-forming, chain reaction-causing casual game tends to be as good as the next, which has led to a bloated middle-class for the genre. It’s unfortunate, really, as the general standard is pretty high - it’s seldom you encounter a bad one.
Swap This! is the perfect example of the genre’s overcrowded malaise. Competent to a fault, it just can’t seem to drag itself clear of the crowd.
If you’d never played such a game before, Swap This! likely comes as a bit of a revelation. It’s colourful, fast-paced, sufficiently varied and just deep enough to reward extended play.
You’re tasked with swapping frozen fish (and you thought you’d swapped everything there was to swap), forming clusters of four of the same colour to free them from their icy prison. Said blocks don’t have to be next to each other, with the onus placed on speed or movement count rather than strategic manoeuvring.
Fish Fight mode sees you constantly battling to prevent a giant fish from surfacing and gobbling up all your blocks. Minute Match is, as the name suggests, a quick time-based mode, while Puzzles tasks you with emptying the screen in as few moves as possible.
Plenty more fish in the sea
It’s all familiar stuff, although there are some neat tactical elements that make Swap This! worthy of consideration. For example, if you manage to isolate a section of blocks through your matching exploits, they’re cut free too.
Then there’s the ability to add fresh blocks to a match after it’s been initiated, so long as you’re quick enough. True, such strategies are simply variations on things that have gone before, but they mean that Swap This! isn’t as shallow as its chirpy presentation would have you believe.
One notable omission for a game of this type is a lack of any social gaming network integration. If you’re not a big Facebook or Twitter user, you’ll have to content yourself with local scores.
It’s a rare blemish on the Swap This! record. Unfortunately, it’s a record that also lacks any outstanding achievements to set it apart from its similarly skilled contemporaries.