A developer can only create the same style of match-3 puzzle game so many times before people are going to start wondering whether they have any new tricks up their sleeves. That’s why it’s hard to fault PopCap, developers of famed puzzler Bewjeweled and its sequels, for venturing out and trying something new, even if their new idea isn’t quite the iPhone game seller that Bejeweled was.
Chuzzle ($4.99) takes the match-3 formula and flips it around a bit. Instead of moving individual jewel pieces into groups of three, you move entire rows vertically or horizontally. This means that at all times, your inventory of jewels is slightly obscured. It’s disorienting the first few times you see a piece you obviously would be able to move in a classic match-3 puzzler only to realize that you’ll have to move the entire row that it sits on, thus ruining the move you wanted to make in the first place.
After a small adjustment period, the change doesn’t feel like it’s been made for the better. Planning out a string of combo moves, like you might in a game such as Treaures of Montezuma, becomes much more hit-or-miss when you have to literally move pieces off of your board in order to make a match. At times, it feels like the best strategy for playing Chuzzle is to simply move the rows around haphazardly until something matches up.
Additionally, while Chuzzle has several modes, the main game mode which involves you making matches and then advancing to harder difficulty levels lacks real incentive. There is no timer of any sort, and you can wait as long as you want to make a move. Seeing as there’s a “Zen” mode that lets you play endlessly and a timed mode that gives you so little time to make a move that you feel completely rushed, it feels like Chuzzle has been overstuffed with modes that don’t satisfy what anyone would want to play exactly.
Visually, this puzzle iPhone game does have a shimmer to it. The pieces you move, the Chuzzles, are little koosh-ball looking creatures that occasionally puff up and just do their best to look adorable. The board is also brightly lit. There’s a lot to please here, aesthetically speaking. It’s a shame then that for $4.99, Chuzzle would only seem to appeal to someone who absolutely needs a cute puzzle iPhone game to play. There are cheaper or better alternatives to be had.