With the saturation of match-3 titles on the App Store and Google Play, it admittedly takes a lot for a game in the genre to really grab you. Catchy sound effects and colors, interesting characters or story, good rewards — any of those might draw someone into another laidback matching game. RainbowTail tries to grab you with the promise of puzzle play alongside Pokemon-like creature capturing, but don’t be fooled. This game doesn’t bear any resemblance to the true monster collecting king, nor is there much of anything else there to redeem it.
RainbowTail’s loose story, of sorts, involves a first act manipulation from a fox-like creature named Darktail who steals the Rainbow from Rainbow Castle and fills everything with toxic sludge. You stop him from his evil deeds by playing typical Match-3 games that are shaken up slightly by the presences of Gemlings. Your “party” of Gemlings consists of one for each of the six colors in game. When their color is matched, a meter under their portrait will fill up, and once full, they’ll appear on the board to clear multiple gems or have other useful effects. You can capture more Gemlings to use by clearing certain puzzles, defeating enemies inside the puzzles, evolving the ones you have, or opening boxes with in-game (purchasable) currency.
The gimmick here is supposed to be the collectible Gemlings, but their implementation is too haphazard to work as a proper objective. Collecting a new Gemling after defeating an enemy usually has a low percentage of happening, and to evolve an existing Gemling you’ll need at least one other Gemling that may be very hard to find in of itself. Furthermore, while some of these Gemlings have impressive board clearing powers, the accessible ones do not and it honestly doesn’t matter which one you have in your party. Within a level, so much can vary about the Gemling’s placement when it appears and your goals for the stage that a more powerful Gemling is rarely, if ever, a guarantee that something useful will happen when you use it.
Furthermore, the actual Match-3 gameplay might be one of the least satisfying iterations on the puzzle that I’ve ever played. It plays so…slow. Most Match-3 games will reward you with big, impressive match combos and scale their scoring accordingly. With RainbowTail, it’s rare that you’ll see four gems in a row, and even rarer to get more than that. Aside from the Gemlings, who don’t drop in often enough, there are no other special ways to clear the board, not even through microtransactions. Instead of interesting puzzles, RainbowTail’s matches are drawn-out affairs that you’re likely to have to repeat when you match yourself into a weird situation where you can only be rescued by a perfectly-placed Gemling that never comes.
But the worst part about RainbowTail is how it runs. This is not a graphics intensive game. There are no flashy cutscenes, the art is mostly still, and the games are visually tame. Yet RainbowTail constantly crashes and drags. At least half the time, tapping on some menu option takes several sections to play the sound cue or indicate the button press happened. Transitions between screens can take ten seconds or more to execute, which is an eternity in mobile game time. And sometimes, the game will just crash. Maybe you tapped a menu option, or maybe you tapped the screen to start the game, or tried to enter a level. Who knows? But whatever you did, it crashed the game, and you have to endure the slow agony of reopening its draggy title screen to play your game again.
With so many other options available out there, there’s just nothing to recommend RainbowTail to anyone. At best, it’s a partially-functional Match-3 game with some cute artwork. At worst, it’s a crashy, technical mess with no real allure. If you came for Pokemon, go play Pokemon. If you came for the match puzzles, almost anything else available would be an improvement.