Lepidopterists, rejoice – thanks to pattern-matching puzzler Mariposa the pleasures of capturing, collecting and studying butterflies can be enjoyed by everyone, not just those categorized under goofy scientific names.
The only problem we have after playing the game? Opinions are going to be split between folks who find the title pleasingly innocuous, and those who personally view the outing to be as bland and off-putting as the real-world activity on which it’s based.
Granted, authenticity isn’t the issue in question here… Releasing rare butterflies from their encasement in magical amber isn’t a hobby we, or anyone else, have theoretically ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Which, to be precise, is your assigned task here, as outlined in a note by one Dr. J. R. Prescott, who’s invited you to join him at his conservatory on a remote island inhabited by the elusive beasts.
Ignore the storyline, however – it’s just an excuse to hit individual stages consisting of stacks of multicolored gems housed atop nondescript backdrops like waterfalls, jungles and mountains. All you really need to know is that the action revolves around dragging each horizontal or vertical column so that you create matches of three or more adjoining, similarly-hued jewels. Make a successful match, and these objects disappear from the board, causing randomly-generated replacements to rain down from above. Of course, during the process, you’ll also remove the stone tiles hiding being any squares involved, with winning each scenario simply a question of eliminating all tiles before the timer runs out.
Simple as the setup sounds, well… that’s about as complex as the title gets. Certainly, the presence of a frost timer that periodically freezes gems, making the rows they inhabit unmovable until eliminated via use in a match, adds challenge. And indeed, a handful of power-ups that remove icy coverings, eliminate entire rows or clear all gemstones or a certain type add impact. But the best twist the title really has to offer is that, if you make matches involving more than four gems, rare chrysalises appear that release fluttering butterflies when removed.
That being said, there’s little reason to keep slogging through the quest, whose musical score, selection of featured backgrounds, arsenal of bonuses and difficulty level evolves little the deeper you progress. What’s more, power-ups prove strangely hard to discern from one another at a glance, taking the form of all too nondescript glowing sheens or swirling stars that circle around selected pieces of amber. Hours in, I still found myself squinting to tell which was which. Not to mention, that is, wondering why I was still plugging away at the adventure, with much flashier and sonically diverse selections readily available. (In-game sound effects rock, but backing tunes are woefully repetitious…)
Let’s be on the level. There’s nothing wrong with the outing, per se – it’s good looking, easy to pick up and capable of engaging players of all ages and interests. As someone who’s had the pleasure of plugging away at dozens of like-minded competitors though, I just don’t see any standout elements here that make it worth fiddling with for extended periods of time.
Bearing this in mind, it’s likely the novice enthusiast who’ll get the most out of the saga: If anything, Mariposa makes a fine introduction to the world of casual gaming. What it doesn’t do, however, is shoot for the stars, or even the top of that old tree in your front yard, in terms of production values, content or hands-on performance.
Therefore, as specimens go, it’s hardly a rare one – try if you like, but don’t be afraid to let this puppy get away.