Top 10 best match-3 puzzle games for iPhone and iPad (iOS)
Our favourite match-3 games for iOS
There are few genres that have become as deeply ingrained in mobile gaming culture as the match-3 games.
Shuffling around colourful blobs on some kind of abstract grid has become an obsession for many - even (perhaps especially) those who wouldn't necessarily class themselves as gamers.
It's easy to get sniffy about these casual time-fillers games, but they have their origins in classic console gaming. And let's be honest here: who of us hasn't been hooked on a match-3 game at some point in their lives?
There's a surprising amount of variety to these match-3 games too. Over the years some have incorporated RPG and strategy elements. Some even have stories.
Here, then, is a selection of the best and most popular match-3 games on iOS. Go on, give them a whirl. You know you want to.Original list by Jon Mundy, updated by Pocket Gamer Staff
Ticket to Earth
Want a little more meat from your iPhone match-3 puzzler? Love the mechanics but wish there was something a little deeper on top of them? Let us introduce you to Ticket to Earth, a match-3 puzzler with a compelling story, lavish comic book visuals, and deep tactical RPG elements. It's also a (whisper it) premium game that gives you a fully fleshed-out experience from the get-go. There's nothing else quite like Ticket to Earth on the market.
We also have a Ticket to Earth review if you're curious to learn more about this unique match 3 game.
Marvel Puzzle Quest
The Puzzle Quest series is one of the most beloved in the business. Adding in a bunch of recognisable Marvel characters was never going to do anything but enhance its appeal. For the uninitiated, Puzzle Quest was one of the first games to combine match-3 with RPG elements, making every grid-clearing round into an epic battle. Having the abstract maneuvers translate into various attack moves was a stroke of genius, as countless copycats have attested to.
Want even more? Then you better read our Marvel Puzzle Quest review! We've listed all the goods and bad about the game there.Download Marvel Puzzle Quest
Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
Aggretsuko is all about cuteness, red pandas, and match-threes. In Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back you have to play the puzzle stages and match the heads of all the characters (yeah, the character heads are the tiles), and build up your very own company from scratch.
We even have some essential tips for Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back, so if you're eager to check this match-3 game out, don't forget to read those tips too!Download Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
At first glance Triple Town looks like another cutesy match-3 game. But there's way more going on with Spry Fox's game than meets the eye. Matching three kinds of block will form a single evolved form of that block, when then, in turn, needs to be matched in order to evolve it further.
The result is a strategic masterpiece that has gone on to create a whole sub-genre of its own. Did you know we also have a Triple Town review?Download Triple Town
Evergarden takes the basic evolved match-3 premise of Triple Town and ramps everything up to a new level. Its action takes place on a hexagon-based game grid, for one thing, while the 3D art style is a true sight to behold. It's a game that practically begs you to prod it and play with it, and it rewards you for your curiosity with a bagful of beautiful surprises.
The game is as beautiful as it is intriguing and challenging. If you're not sure exactly what that means, then you should read our Evergarden review where we give detailed information about all the essentials in the game.Download Evergarden
Two Dots is one of the cleanest, purest, most achingly stylish iOS match-3 games on the App Store. It (and its predecessor Dots) pretty much wrote the book on elegant simplicity. But that's not what matters. What matters is that Two Dots has you dragging to match up coloured dots in a series of carefully designed one-hit puzzles, and that those dots make a lovely sound when you touch them.
Don't forget to read our TwoDots review in case you're curious about how this game plays!Download TwoDots
Candy Crush Friends Saga
The modern match-3 behemoth that is Candy Crush Saga is remarkable precisely because of how well it nails the classic gameplay loop. This latest iteration doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does apply a rich 3D lick of paint. We'd complain about its saccharine art style and derivative gameplay, but why complain about a game that's: a) already a massive hit b) free to play and c) really solidly made?
Yeah, we were not exactly super impressed with it, but it is still a nice game - after all, it's Candy Crush. Though you can read more about our entire experience playing Friends Saga, by checking our Candy Crush Friends Saga review.Download Candy Crush Friends Saga
Way before King arrived on the scene, it was PopCap that arrived to give the genre of the iPhone match-3 games an addictive, all-encompassing spin with the Bejeweled series. Bejeweled Blitz condenses the gem-matching fun into brief one-minute rounds. The visual fireworks are mesmerising and deeply rewarding in a way few games can match. PopCap simply knows how to make incredibly inviting games that feel great to play.Download Bejeweled Blitz
Farm Heroes Saga
This game stands out from the rest for sure. Here you must collect fruit. And they look beautiful. Otherwise, everything is usual. You just need to collect three or more identical fruits in a row and score points. And to complete the level, you need to fulfill various conditions.
The number of fruits to collect increases over time, but if you collect more than three fruits in a row, then all fruits standing nearby will receive one additional bonus. The bonus is that this fruit will be counted as two or four at once if three bonuses have already been accumulated on it. And there are also boosters! As elsewhere, there are boosters that you buy before starting the level, and there are those that you use when you try to complete the level.Download Farm Heroes Saga
You don't have to make things more complicated just to take the match-3 genre in interesting new directions. Tiny Bubbles is one of the most inviting games on this list, with its dreamy graphics and tactile bubble-popping mechanic. But the way it plays with this system and the use of colour serves to constantly keep you on your toes - albeit in a blissed-out state of mind.
We've really loved this beautiful and soothing iOS match-3 game, and if you're not convinced yet, you should definitely read our Tiny Bubbles review. It might change your opinion completely.Download Tiny Bubbles