GameHouse’s Rainforest Cascade is kind of like a good movie sequel: you more or less know what to expect when you walk in, and you enjoy it while you’re there, but it does very little to push the creative envelope.
In other words, this new 3-in-a-row puzzler is fun and relaxing, but will hardly win awards for ingenuity.
As its name suggests, Rainforest Cascade takes place in the South American jungles, where players must match at least three “rainforest”-themed tiles in a horizontal or vertical row, such as leaves, critters, animals, ancient statues and gemstones. Once you’ve used your mouse to swap adjacent tiles in order to make a match of three or more, the row or column disappears, allowing more tiles to cascade down onto the board. Each level has a different shape and new wildlife or jewels are introduced every few levels or so. Cobweb tiles can’t be swapped unless an adjacent tile is matched, which turns the cobweb into a proper tile. Similarly, “locked” tiles with a green vine through it can only be broken when a match is made with the same tile piece (such as a lion’s head).
In order to advance through the game you must turn all the tile pieces into gold, which is achieved when you make a 3-in-a-row (or more) match. Only when every tile has a gold background will you be able to move on. Later on in the game you will need to swap tiles multiple times for it to turn gold. Players will also add to their limited Sun meter, which lets gamers click on any tile on the board to turn it to gold, should they need the help.
Speaking of assistance, eight unique power-ups appear from time to time, that turns tiles into gold for you: some tile pieces turn into a dragonfly which flies around the board in a specific pattern, while others change all nearby tiles to gold. Two others blast the entire row or column into gold. Another power-up stops the clock from ticking so you have more time to complete the level.
At the end of every stage players can play a bonus round by clicking on a 6×6 grid to see what they can win, such as 5,000 points or extra Suns and other bonuses.
In total, the game features more than 120 challenging levels and 22 bonus levels. The South American-inspired music is soothing, and the bright “nature”-themed graphics also add to the game’s charm.
Problem is, we’ve seen this all before. Very little in this game is unique. We’ve seen these very same mechanics found in many other 3-in-a-row puzzlers — including the locked tiles, power-ups and bonus stages.
Thankfully, casual games usually let you try before you buy, so Rainforest Cascade is one of those titles you should definitely spend time with before laying out the cash. A Mac version is also available.