Match-and-vanish puzzles with limited moves

IMG_0001.PNGThe match-and-vanish principle of sequential removal puzzles has taken off in the numerous Bejeweled variants, also en masse found in the app store. As a side-effect, as few of such arcade games have developed separate puzzle modes alike to Vexed. Different from Vexed, these puzzles all take the Bejeweled cue that you have to get three identical tiles together before they disappear (in Vexed also groups of two tiles disappear). Also different from Vexed is that these puzzles do not have any walls that block the movement of the blocks. The only constraint are blocks of other color that are in the way. This does not allow for difficult puzzles, so all these puzzles have to add an extra constraint, and that is that the number of allowed moves is limited. So, these puzzles are not so much about removing all blocks (which is easy), but to do so within a pre-set number of movements (which can become pretty difficult).

The first of these ‘match-and-vanish-with-limited-moves’ puzzles (can somebody suggest a nice name, please?) is shown at the top of this post: Aurora Feint II: Tower Puzzles. The game Aurora Feint The Beginning is a free Bejeweled variant that took a lot of attention in the early days of the app store (there are paid versions now as well, just search the app store). It has one mode that consists of puzzles, and this mode now has become a standalone puzzle app with 37 levels. You can either move individual tiles (or better: balls, though they behave as quadratic tiles), or you can turn the iPhone and all tiles fall to one side. Both count as a move. Different from Vexed, a move may also be an exchange of tiles. Any matching group of three of bigger vanishes, and the trick is to not be left with sole tiles. This app is well-designed (although the artwork might be a bit too baroque for some), and very responsive.

The levels of Aurora Feint are well-designed too, but unfortunately the developers (Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron) also fall into the trap of locking levels until you have solved the earlier ones. I have repeated this very often, and I will continue to do so: locking of levels simply does not make sense in a puzzle game! Please let the user freely choose which level to try. There is simply no joy in being stuck on a level. Let me try the next level – maybe later I’ll return to the one I couldn’t solve.

There is one interesting rule-innovation in this puzzle: if you want then you can select in which order the tiles disappear. This can actually make a difference, because it results in different consecutive matches. Starting from level 25 or so you might need this, and these last levels are quite a challenge. Summarizing: a nice puzzle game, and worth the price.

trism.pngAnother famous ‘match 3’ game on the iPhone is Trism. This game adds the twist that the tiles are triangles, which leads to various different kind of effects when moving the tiles around. Like Aurora Feint, it has a puzzle mode, called “Syllogism”, which is unfortunately not yet available as a standalone app (though the game “Trismology” is announced on the Trism-forum as a standalone app with only puzzles). I have not tried these puzzles, but there seem to be about 30 levels available in Trism (likewise not freely choosable) and from the forum-user-requests, it seems like the last few of the puzzles are really challenging. The puzzle shown here to the left is trivial of course. I hope that Trismology will be out soon!

Finally, there is a puzzle called Rack Brains, which offers the same kind of puzzle. In total 30 levels of match-and-vanish puzzles with limited moves. From the screenshots in the app store, it seems like there is no change in the direction of gravity involved, and you can exchange tiles (like in Aurora Feint, but differently from Vexed). If somebody has tried this puzzle game, I would be glad to hear about it. It looks fine, the main question is whether the levels are any good. The levels shown in the screenshots in the app store are extremely simplistic.


One Response to “Match-and-vanish puzzles with limited moves”

  1. Gyora Says:

    If you like sequential puzzles check out Hidato.
    Available online, in books, newspapers, iPhone and more, see

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