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iPhone Game Review: Puzzle Bee
      04/04/10 10:22 AM

iPhone Game Review: Puzzle Bee
Reviewed by Austin

Puzzle Bee is colorful and unique arcade collection by Nate Games. Collection is a more fitting word than game due it containing three very different game modes each with their own variations.

Play a classic match-3 similar to Jackpot with power-ups, a drop-3 game somewhat close to Tetris, or a shooter that works like Bust-a-Move. Earn Pola coins and buy variations on game modes, game-altering skins, and different characters.

Gameplay

There are three main game modes in Puzzle Bee: Classic, Line, and Shooting. Each of these has few variant modes that alter gameplay. Classic mode has three variations that change how you swap gems and both Line and Shooting each have two modes that change the number of required gems to form a match. Each mode consists of thirty stages, features twelve different colored gems and two skull gems, and can be played in normal, hard, and hell difficulties. There are also the challenge difficulties, but the only difference between them and the regular difficulties is the option of starting off on your highest stage. Most modes have four main power-ups with the exception of Classic using an additional three.

Classic mode is your basic match-3. The gems are hexagonal and can be moved in six directions in Basic mode. In Small Turn or Big Turn, gems are rotated in a wheel clockwise or counter clockwise to make matches. The objective in Classic is to clear a set number of gems before your health is depleted. At the start of each stage it shows the number of colors and obstacles, and the number of cleared gems needed to pass. The challenge to Classic is your constantly dropping health bar. This game mode can be compared to Time Attack in Bejeweled; don't let your bar become empty, or it's game over. As you complete stages, your health bar begins dropping at a faster rate and more gems are added. You can swipe to swap gems, or touch one gem then another. If playing Turn, then you can slide to rotate, or tap the center gem and then the direction of rotation.



Line mode works similar to Tetris. You have a group of three gems that are in a vertical line. You can rearrange the order, but not the orientation. Pieces fall from the top of the screen and you arrange gems to make lines of three or four depending on the variant selected. The objective is to clear a given amount of gems before they reach the top. New gem colors and skulls are added progressively. Tap left or right to move falling pieces, tap the piece itself to change order, and tap the bottom of the screen to instantly drop a piece.

Shooting mode can be most closely compared to games such as Bust-a-Move. Lines of gems appear at the top of the screen and you are given gems to shoot. Shoot gems to make lines of three or four depending on the chosen variant. The objective is to clear the given amount of gems before they reached the bottom of the screen. Tap left or right to move, tap above to shoot one gem, and tap at the top of the screen to shoot three.

For all your hard work and effort, you are rewarded with Pola coins. These are used to purchase new game modes, characters, and skins. Prices are usually either 1,000 or 2,000 coins for game modes; around 500 coins can be earned in a full game of Classic, which can take up to an hour or longer. With twelve game modes to be bought that will already take hours. Characters are more costly at prices ranging from 1,500 to 10,000. Skins are the most expensive in the store and alter the gain from power-ups. All four skins are holiday themed and cost 10,000 each.

Graphics & Sound

The art style seems childish and very colorful. Some gems are often to closely colored and sometimes cause you to lose.

There is no music at all unless you count ten second tunes at the title screen and stage screens.

Sound effects give off an arcade feel, but get annoying very quickly.

One saving grace is you can play iPod music which disables all ingame sounds when turned on.

Conclusion

With three core modes that are full of alternatives, unlockables, and online leaderboards, this game has a lot to offer, but even with the variations, it does eventually get repetitive. Most of the variants are slight and don't differ hugely. This game is only recommended for those with patience; only one game mode is unlocked from the start, earning coins takes longer than it should, and gem colors don't stand out enough. If you enjoy match-3s or Bust-a-Move then this game is for you.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: 3 Gem colors are too close and can cause confusion.
Sound: 1 No music and annoying sound effects.
Controls: 4 Some times feel unresponsive.
Gameplay: 4 Offers three different game modes and a store.

Playing Hints and Tips:

? In later stages of Classic, focus on the mission. Failure causes your health bar to drop faster.
? Save your power-ups and use them wisely.
? In Classic, make sure you always have at least one hammer power-up. Skulls begin to build up quickly in later stages.
? Save your coins for game modes; characters aren?t really worth the coins.


App Facts:
Developer: Nate Games
Release Date: March 20, 2010
Price: $1.99
Buy App: iTunes App Store

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