The app FLIP is a combination of a Bejeweled-like match-three game, a tilt maze and a match-and-vanish puzzle. So in principle, there are many very interesting puzzle concepts combined into one neat little package. However, the execution leaves much to be desired, and the level-design is not very challenging. So, I really cannot recommend this app just now, but I will keep an eye on any updates.
The screenshot at the right shows the “puzzle” mode, which is basically a tilt maze. All colored blocks move by tilting the iPhone. When they come to rest on the correspondingly colored tile, then the block vanishes. When the blocks just move over their corresponding tile, it does not vanish. However, different from other tile mazes, the different goals do not have to be reached simultaneously, but can be approaches one after the other. This makes it mostly rather simple.
The screenshot to the left shows the “speed” mode, which is a variant of the match-and-vanish principle. In this mode, you have to bring together all blocks of a color, and then these blocks all vanish. This is an interesting new variant from the Vexed-principle, where two or more touching blocks immediately vanished, and the Bejeweled-inspired puzzles, in which three of more touching blocks vanish. In FLIP, the number of blocks of a color that have to touch is presented on the bottom of the screen (and mostly this number is the total number of blocks of that color).
Unfortunately, the “speed” puzzles are times (as indicated by the name), and when you don’t finish 3 times 5 levels in time, you will have to start all over again! That is very unfortunate (not to say inexcusable). As I have been repeating all along in this blog: please give the user complete freedom to choose a level in a puzzle game! And it is no fun doing puzzles under time pressure. The only reason time pressure is needed is to masque simplistic puzzles. This holds only to some extent here, because some levels are actually tricky.
So, nice try, but not yet ready for mass adoption. Except for free level choice and removal of time pressure, also the interface needs an overhaul. First, the font of the texts is too small. Second, when tilting the device, the whole user interface turns, which is very distracting. Even worse: the tilting of the user interface feels more sensitive to movement of the iPhone than the blocks (actually, the developers explained to me that this is factually not the case). Finally, you have to reset the game to switch modes, and achievements are not saved. So, you’ll have to start all over again. Not fun.
[Text slightly revised on 23 January 2009 after feedback of the developers.]