Combine Scrabble with match-3 puzzles with social gameplay to get this unique twist on a familiar formula
They’re back. The king of social gaming’s bringing us another “…with Friends” title, and assuming you have lots of friends, Zynga’s latest is sure to keep you even more glued to your iPhone than you already are. You’ll also, y’know, help Zynga take over the world.
If you’ve played any of the other “with Friends” titles, you’ll pretty much know what to expect with Matching with Friends. You hook up with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or complete strangers in back-and-forth, turn-based play. Also, like its predecessors, you’re able to juggle several games simultaneously.
But what, exactly, is different this time around, gameplay-wise? Intead of doodling Lady Gaga or pineapples with your finger, this Zynga title requires you to rack up as many points as possible by matching like-colored squares on a Scrabble-like board. It’s a match-3 game, but what a couple of twists. The Scrabble board is populated with various multipliers, like 2x or 3x. If you clear squares over these tiles, your score will be ratcheted up accordingly.
You’re given three rows of three tiles each per round. You must play all of them, and each can be placed anywhere on the board. Don’t like your tiles in any given round? Spend ten coins and swap ‘em out. You’ll also spend coins to buy bombs, which, as you might guess, blow stuff up. You can eliminate stranded tiles in your way using this method. Earn more coins with each game you play.
As with all Zynga games, the social element is key, so unfortunately, if you have any friends (that want to play Matching with Friends with you, that is—don’t worry, we know you’re popular!), no tile-matching for you. With puzzle games like these, a one-player mode can be a fun, almost meditative experience, so having a computer opponent to quickly go back and forth with would have been a nice one-player mode. It can get tiresome waiting for your friend on the other iPhone to make his or her move.
Another note: Also like all Zynga games, there’s a free version and a paid version. The ads in the free version are not intrusive, though.
Overall, the game is polished, easy to dive into, addictive and easy to learn. There are certainly more complex, fast-paced match-3 games out there, as well as ones that allow a solo mode. But if you’re looking for an excuse to interact with your crush or find a non-awkward way to reconnect with a long-lost cousin, invite them for a Matching with Friends game. (Also known as Matching with Exes, Matching with Your Great Aunt, or Matching with Anybody Who Wants to Play a Match-3 Game.)
- Inventive match-3 game. Easy to juggle several matches at a time. Menus easily navigated.
- A single player vs. AI mode would’ve been cool.