There are hundreds, if not thousands, of match-3 puzzle games currently on the market. Yet even when deluged with options, the appetite is such that any new release featuring a household name is essentially guaranteed a large enough audience to be viable. With Genera Games already known as a developer of successful match-3 games (Barbie: Sparkle Blast, Star Trek: Wrath of Gems), and perhaps no bigger franchise name in the world than Star Wars, it would have been easy to phone it in with Star Wars: Puzzle Droids.
Instead, the game offers something a little different for both Star Wars and match-3 fans. Unlike most match-3 games, there’s a narrative to Star Wars: Puzzle Droids — one that’s consistent and runs throughout the game.
The game offers a retelling of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the unique perspective of BB-8. Present but not actively engaged in many of the key moments of the films, the memories stored by BB-8 tread the line of an insider/outsider perspective. In order to complete the full narrative you have to complete the game, and once you get started it’s very difficult to stop. Sure, you might think you’re only going to play for 20 minutes, but before you know it your whole weekend is gone and you’ve only hit level 60.
In terms of gameplay itself, the actions will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever played a match-3 game before. There are the basic matches, with ‘super gems’ created by combining more than three gems of the same color in a variety of ways. These super gems can be combined with other super gems to create big reactions helping you complete level goals faster. Like with other big-name, big-budget match-3 puzzlers there’s also super-powerful bonus moves that are awarded rarely in-game, but available as in-app purchases. For purists they’re so powerful they’ll likely feel like cheating, but can be a real lifeline if you’re looking to make it to the next memory quickly.
Where Star Wars: Puzzle Droids will endear itself to hardcore fans of the genre is in the variety of challenge types. As you progress through the game, it isn’t the same basic four or five challenge types being recycled over and over (one of the weaker aspects of recent games like Rio: Match-3 Party) as each stage feels familiar, yet different from any of the previous stages. You might be trying to eliminate wooden or blue tiles again, but in order to uncover them, you might need to knock out attacking ships or be limited to using bombs because of their positions.
Unlike many match-3 games, Star Wars: Puzzle Droids also offers overarching missions. If you want to level up, you’ll need to complete these missions so it’s best not to ignore them even if they aren’t in your face.
Graphically, the game isn’t particularly impressive. Rather than a weakness, this means performance is strong even on very old devices. The background music and sound effects definitely benefit from having an official relationship to the Star Wars franchise. Together, the background graphics and music give the game an authentic legitimacy.
Overall, Star Wars: Puzzle Droids doesn’t offer anything radically innovative. But it does offer more than your typical match-3 – a cohesive and compelling narrative, smooth gameplay and a seemingly endless variety of challenges that revolve around common themes. If you’re a fan of Star Wars you’ve likely already downloaded it. If not, it’s still worth a try. You’ve only got your productivity to lose while there’s hours of fun to be gained.