Flipstones brings gem matching and line drawing together into one triangle-shaped package.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” so the saying goes. There’s also more than one way to match up coloured gems, which may not sound as snappy, but it’s a lot less nasty. Joining such well-worn methods as forming lines and arranging clusters, Flipstones has you building large triangles and hexagons from smaller coloured triangles.
Forming these shapes is achieved either by drawing a path for the individual pieces or by selecting them and then selecting the destination. The large triangles are easiest to achieve, as they only require four same-coloured blocks. Hexagons are trickier, with six blocks going into their making.
There’s no limit to the distance each piece can travel, but there are certain side effects you need to consider.
Unlike most match-three puzzlers, you need to makes sure that the path is clear for each piece – if there’s no way through, they’ll stop dead in their tracks. As such, you’ll spend a considerable portion of your time clearing random blocks out of your way, which may be novel but can get irritating. I don’t like tidying up in real life, so why would I want to do it in a game?
Another point to consider is that, on many of the levels, every move a block makes fills up a bar at the top of the screen. When this is full, a load of new blocks are spawned into the field of play, which can swiftly overwhelm you if you’re not efficient with your block-matching.
Each colour, when matched successfully, has its own special property. So, for example, green triangles shoot out acid that rids the screen of random blocks. Meanwhile purple blocks grant surrounding blocks wings, enabling them to make their way around the field unobstructed.
It’s certainly a novel twist on the usual match-three puzzler template, but as hinted at above, it rarely flows smoothly. You’ll encounter repeated snags on the game field which requires constant reshuffling and decluttering, thus preventing you from getting into a rhythm with the game.
Still, there’s a nice amount of variation to the level requirements. Some simply require a set points total in order to progress, while others demand that you survive an onslaught of dropping blocks.
It can be quite a challenge, and you’ll have to learn to thin out the field by deliberately targeting the likes of the greens and the whites (which act as dynamite, blasting areas free of blocks) in congested areas. You’ll also need to think ahead, placing same coloured blocks near to each other so that you can form matches easier further down the line.
There’s a welcome dose of multitasking involved, as rather than waiting around for a block to slide into position you can use the time to shunt another block along. One of the most satisfying feelings in the game is bringing several components of a hexagon together simultaneously.
Outside the main Challenge mode, all you really have to play with (other than the obligatory OpenFeint high score table) is Endless mode, which rather predictably tasks you with racking up as high a score as possible.
Ultimately, Flipstones is a solid if unspectacular effort, which shines brightest in its attempt to try something new with the match-three puzzler genre. While it’s only partially successful, you’ll find it to be a decent and challenging experience.