Zynga-a game developer that needs no introduction-is at it again with a new installment of the “…with friends” franchise, Matching with Friends.
I have to admit that up through Scramble with Friends, I was hooked. But keeping up with game after game (occasionally it was more than 10 at a time), was too much for my 20-something mind to maintain. But, I took a dive back into the realm of social, turn-based interaction and picked up Matching.
First, a quick explanation: the genre should be familiar but for those who don’t know, these games involve completing a turn then waiting for your opponent (who can be random or a “friend” from Facebook or Zynga). It’s a lot like a board game in that way, only friends won’t complete their turn until their real-life schedules allow. This is a fact that can be tiresome if you have a particularly busy friend who won’t play for weeks at a time. The actual objective for this game is where it breaks away. All the other games (Words, Hanging, Scramble, etc) are word-based games. This one is more akin to Bewjeweled or other color-based matching efforts. The idea is that you place colored blocks on the board so that they are adjacent to the same color. Once you hit “play” all the colored blocks with 3 or more of the same in a group disappear. You earn points based on the number of blocks you blow up in each turn. The points increase with combos, x2 spaces, etc. There are swapping options if you don’t like the hand you’re dealt, as well. Once you’re satisfied with your placements and your score is tallied, the game switches back to your opponents turn and you wait.
As I said, I’m familiar with the genre, so a lot of my review will be swayed by my general disinterest with that style of game. I think it’s a little annoying that some nights you can have a ton of turns to play and other nights you can have none (depending on your opponents’ schedules). Additionally, this particular game is much more like Words With Friends in that you really need to assess all your placement options before playing your turn. It requires a lot of thought and a lot of strategy. If that’s something you like, then this game will be satisfying. Because I’m not a huge fan of color-matching games, this one didn’t really resonate with me at all. The 3-block tiles were a little annoying because they created a lot of options to decide between. I also found the control-scheme a little sluggish. Dragging blocks around the screen and then tapping to rotate didn’t seem all that intuitive.
But, complaints aside, I think there’s a definite market for this game and with a little practice it would be easy to get good at. And as time has told, social games with a competitive edge are definitely represented in the mobile game market. So try this one out. It may just be the fresh, new take on social games that you’ve been looking for.