A unique puzzler that’s definitely worth taking for a spin
Puzzle games and the iPhone have proven to be a great combination. It’s even better when that combination yields something fresh and exciting. Spinzizzle just so happens to do this, letting the chips… erm, balls, fall where they may.
A match-three at heart, Spinzizzle is all about spinning a circular board with dimples in it (think a Chinese Checkers board) to move colored balls around while making chains of three or more. However the balls will always fall to the bottom of the screen, so it’s not a simple twist to make things happen. On top of that there are multiple boards, each with different configurations and obstacles (some of them are real head-scratchers.)
In order to pass a level you must fill a bar at the top of the screen by making matches before the timer runs out. If all you did was make basic matches, your game wouldn’t last very long. True success – and a big draw of Spinzizzle – is the combo system. Once you make a chain, the balls that will eliminate light up, becoming frozen. Before they vanish you can continue to spin the board and either try to add to that chain or make others, racking up a big score. Once the chains you make explode, new balls fall onto the board. If they make rapid chains, that’s worth bonus points too. The big strategy in Spinzizzle comes from trying to balance the big combo with what’s frozen on the board, all performed within a certain time limit. Even though some of the levels are difficult – I found I was running out of time in the later levels a bit – they never become frustrating.
There are special balls that add some extra dynamics to the game. For example, the bomb balls – replete with flashing lights and menacing-looking core – will explode a large portion of the playfield when removed in a chain. The wild-colored ball will not only match with any color, but will also match with more than one chain at the same time.
The presentation in Spinzizzle is top-notch. A good puzzle game has to be quick and easy to see what’s going on. Spinzizzle‘s graphics are bright, colorful and easy on the eyes. They have a cartoony look to them that seems to pop. The soundtrack is an electronic new-age sound, but is very listenable and definitely doesn’t distract or detract. Spinzizzle is also compatible with OpenFeint, so you’ll be able to share your scores and achievements with the whole world.
If Spinzizzle has faults, they are very few. First, even though there are 21 levels, there are only two modes. The Story mode (oddly-named, since there is no story) is where you’ll unlock the game boards. The Action mode is where you can play any board you’ve already unlocked. A lack of tutorial means that you’ll be spending some time figuring out how to perform combos and what the special balls do. And finally, with the iPhone accelerometer, I found myself wanting to spin my phone rather than touching the screen to rotate the board. Silly, yes, but it felt intuitive to do.
In the end, though, Spinzizzle is a fun, addictive, fresh puzzler that’s just fun to play. The bite-sized nature of the levels lends itself great to on-the-go play, and it’s a concept that I haven’t encountered on the iPhone yet. Definitely take Spinzizzle for a spin; you’ll be glad you did.