Editor's note: The 1.2 update of Syd Sym suggests that "Top Grabbing" has improved so experienced players are able to get through to more difficult levels quicker. While the speed of advancement has improved somewhat, a true level select would still be more beneficial.
Syd Sym's Sweet Symmetry ($2.99) isn't quite like any puzzle iPhone game I've ever played. That uniqueness works both for and against the creative iPhone game at various points, but ultimately lends it more respect as an interesting concept than a great game.
The basic gameplay mechanism of Syd Sym is similar to other matching puzzle games. Various candies drop onto your game board, and you have to create pairs or patterns in order to achieve the required number of points to progress to the next level. That you're encouraged to match patterns, as well as the more typical pairs, is sort of a novel twist that works because Syd Sym deals in single-item pieces. Unlike a game that relies on block-like pieces like Tetris, the single-piece candy gives you more room to experiment with combinations.
Combinations, in fact, loom large in Syd Sym. The game keeps track of every new combo you've discovered, and pulling off your first "five-in-a-row" pattern will net you more points than simply repeating your two-piece alternating set. One of the more clever facets of Syd Sym is that it allows the player to re-use his or her pieces to create new combos. Just because something is on the board doesn't mean you can't move it. So, if you've already grabbed a four-in-a-row pattern and want to move in a second style of candy into the middle of the four pieces to create a 2-1-2 pattern, you can do that, providing you have the room to maneuver the other pieces out of the way on the board.
While Syd Sym will allow you to move pieces wherever you want, you're not allowed to leapfrog over other pieces you don't want, so it becomes important not to box in more versatile candies that you could use for combos later. Each time you move a piece that you used for a combo, you'll be docked a few points. So if you end up having to move a bunch of pieces without getting any new points out of it, you'll actually end up with a net loss of points for all of your unnecessary rearranging.
Unfortunately, while all of these gameplay tricks seem interesting, the gameplay seems a step or two behind. Candy pieces are released to the board too slowly early on, so even if you know what you're doing after playing the game a few times, it takes too long to start up the iPhone game and get back to a challenging level. While you can quit and jump back in to your previous game, you’re not allowed to start on a higher difficulty level if you’re starting from scratch.
Ultimately, you play an iPhone game because you want to kill time in an enjoyable way, but the pace of Syd Sym's Sweet Symetry is just a little too slow to call enjoyable. It is a cool concept, and with a few improvements it could be a must-play; but for now, it's probably only essential to puzzle fanatics.