Perhaps it’s fitting the latest 3-in-a-row puzzler takes place where Darwin solidified his theory on evolution; Galapago is built on the popular casual game formula but adds a slew of new features to keep the game-play fun and fresh.
Gamers are invited to travel through the beautiful Galapagos Islands – from the beachfront to the island jungles to a bubbling volcano – as you match indigenous creatures of all shapes and colors.
So, unlike the gems found in games such as Bejeweled, Galapago lets you align critters – vertically or horizontally – to make a match of at least three adjacent pieces. Doing so eliminates the row or column, causing new pieces to cascade onto the board. The goal of each of the 75-odd levels is to not only rack up points within the predetermined time limit, but to also make matches with special pieces that may be outlined in bold or has a gold square under it. Because pieces fall from top to bottom, often a bold piece, when destroyed, will allow the rest of the pieces to gracefully pour down towards the bottom of the screen.
And the creatures are animated too, so they’re wiggle and squiggle in various ways; pink frogs will hop from one square to the next, while orange seastars will perform a back-flip as they move around the board.
Once all these pieces are eliminated from the board, all of the critters begin to fly, swim, hop, wriggle and gyrate towards the top of the screen and you can then use your mouse to click on as many as you can for bonus points before they get away. After this is completed, the player progresses to the next level – and they can even choose their path throughout the island by clicking on a desired route.
Each level offers a different board layout from one to the next, and are rated in difficulty (out of five stars). From time to time, players will also add creatures to the My Collections screen (such as the Turtle of Toi) to look at your game pieces up close and personal.
If you have a sense of humor you’ll enjoy the shrunken heads dangling off the side of the screen during game-play. These funny-looking chaps will taunt you, perhaps give you the odd tip or two — or if you click on them something funny will happen (give it a try!).
Finally, Galapago, like many other 3-in-a-row games, offers a few clever obstacles – such as tiles that cannot be swapped or cocoons that require you to make an adjacent match of the same color in order to destroy it. The game also features a host of power-ups that you can use once per level, such as the ability to swap two pieces, blow up a piece, scramble all the pieces on the board, and so on. In order to activate a power-up, however, you’ll need to fill up the power-up meter by performing well.
If the time limit is ruining the soothing feel of the game – complete with beautiful graphics and natural sound effects – then you may opt for the Relaxed mode with no clock to worry about. Too bad there no other modes exist as players may crave something new after they’ve reached the volcano. Also, there’s very little music in the game, which seems to only play while hanging out in the main menu.
Minor niggles aside, Galapago is one of the better 3-in-a-row puzzlers to debut in a long while. It’s fun, quirky and challenging all rolled into one, and will surely give players their money’s worth despite the “me too” game formula that’s been explored many times over the past couple of years.
You say you want an evolution? Galapago is it.