5 Star Rio Resort Review: Life’s a Beach

The Good

Brilliant visuals that make you feel like going to the beach.

Smooth matching mechanics that work perfectly.

The Bad

Gameplay doesn't have a lot of variety.

Challenge level can be surprisingly high.

Ever wanted to build a swanky resort hotel on the beach? If your dad was in the real estate business and had a name like Mr. Rich, it’s probably all you could think about! 5 Star Rio Resort is a match-3 puzzle game that leverages fruit swapping mechanics into something of a casual building sim. Instead of worrying about rates and supplies and repairs, though, your only concern is to please the customers and rake in as much cash as you can.

The vast majority of your time in 5 Star Rio Resort will be spent completing match-3 levels as efficiently as you can. There are two basic goals per stage: match items the customers want, and clear all of the sand tiles out of the way. (Nobody wants sand in their hotel room, you see.) Little floating heads surround each grid and can be quickly cleared away by matching the corresponding tiles. Removing sand is as easy as making a match over top of it, you just have to hope the pieces line up where you need them. If not, it’s time to start over.

Matching earns you money, while creating chain reactions nets you even more. All of this bling can be spent between levels to upgrade your growing hotel biz. You start with just a standard and rather boring building. Soon you can upgrade to something a little more swanky, then set your sights on things like a pavilion, lagoon, and a bar. The more you add the more challenging things get on the puzzle side of things, but hey, you didn’t come here for a free ride, did you?

5 Star Rio Resort has two difficulty modes you can switch between on a per level basis. Casual lets you focus on meeting goals with no time limit and no restrictions. Regular mode imposes a move cap, which forces you to be economical with your swaps. It’s surprisingly difficult to beat stages in regular mode, so don’t feel bad if you switch over to casual on occasion. It’s worth noting that you’ll earn more stars and more money if you stick it out in regular, however.

5 Star Rio Resort has all the trappings of your standard match-3 game, including simple obstacles like immovable chained items and multi-stage tiles you have to clear. There are also a few power-ups you can create and unleash to wipe out groups of items in one hit. Nothing too surprising, to be honest, but the sunny visuals and vivid special effects make the experience come alive.

Two parts match-3 and one part resort building makes for an interesting setup. 5 Star Rio Resort keeps both sides of its gameplay straightforward and casual, making it a great time waster that isn’t afraid to challenge your swapping skills from time to time.

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