While I’m a firm believer in The Beatles mantra that “All You Need is Love,” if you want to be successful in the new puzzle game Love Love, you also need to be able to get four like-colored blocks together. Percy Bysshe Shelly once said that “all love is sweet, given or returned” but while Love Love is certainly sweet no one is giving you anything. You gotta earn every little bit of love you can.
At first glance Love Love seems like a fairly typical Dr. Mario/Columns type puzzle game. Two block pieces drop from the top of the screen and you can rotate them as they fall. The point is to stack them until at least 4 matching colors are touching, at which time they score points and go away. This is all really par for the course in these kind of games, so it all makes perfect immediate sense. But this game has one element that makes it utterly unique.
In Love Love, when you drop a piece down that is a different color than those surrounding it, that piece changes the color of those around it. It doesn’t change it to its own color mind you, but the piece on the board blends its color with the new piece. So for instance if you drop a blue block down next to a yellow one the blue piece influences the yellow one and it turns green. Now you need to match at least 4 green blocks to clear it (or change it to another color once again).
You only have 4 different colored blocks to work with, which really makes the game sound easy. It’s not that hard to organize 4 different colors, is it? But once those colors all start interacting and changing each other, things get significantly more complicated. So while you are always dropping red, blue, yellow and gray block groups soon you’ll have some on the board that are green, orange and purple as well. Luckily the gray pieces never change color or change the pieces around them, but it’s sad to think they represent broken hearts they offer some much needed stability to the game board.
Puzzle pieces can be changed back and forth as many times as you want, so a red block will change a yellow piece orange but another red piece will change it back to red. If a piece is influenced by all three colors it is turned white and scores significantly more when cleared. They also don’t change color any more after that.
Having to focus on colors you’re trying to clear as well as your influence over the colors already on the board offers a unique and interesting experience. Once you have a few blocks on the board that you’ve shifted the colors to, you’re forced to orchestrate other similar reactions so you can score those tiles. You may have triggered a block to change to green by accident but now you’ll have to do it on purpose in order to score and clear those tiles. In this way the game requires planning more steps ahead than your standard piece-dropping puzzle game.
The touch controls on the iPhone do a fine enough job with tapping to rotate the pieces and swiping your finger around to move them. I think the game suffered a bit at higher levels just because you’re apt to be less precise in positioning the pieces, but it wasn’t a major issue. The game also offers a leaderboard to compare yourself against others, and you can send your scores and brags out to Facebook and challenge your friends to try and beat your score.
At its base, the gameplay of Love Love is totally derivative. We’ve been playing this game for years and years now. However the gentle pull of the tiles combined with the color wheel is something I’ve never seen before in a game, and grants it some truly unique gameplay. Love Love isn’t just another falling blocks puzzle game – it’s a falling blocks puzzle game I know I’ll be playing for quite some time.