I’m 59-year-old woman and, like most middle-aged women, I’m a gamer. That’s right. More than 60% of women between 45 and 64 play video games. They may not play Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider (as I do), but they do play mobile games in huge numbers, including the genre known as matching-tile (or match-3) games.
The most famous match-3 games are probably Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga. I’ll come out right here, right now and admit that I am a Candy Crusher. In fact, I’m on level 393 of Candy Crush Saga. Most days I enjoy playing it a little, chasing my sister Diane, my mom, and my cousin’s wife Maryline through the candied landscape. I find Candy Crush Saga fun, relaxing, and a good way to kill time while I’m waiting my turn at the DMV or the dentist.
The Reliable Appeal of Tile-Matching Games
There are thousands of match-3 games available. Why? Because people like them.
Jesper Juul, a video game researcher, explains that although tile-matching games are not given much respect in the video gaming universe, they belong in a long and noble tradition originating with ancient games like Mahjong and Dominoes. Humans are pattern matchers, he explains. We find identifying patterns to be a satisfying activity, and that’s why tile-matching games continue to appeal to us.
New examples of this popular genre appear on the app stores every day. Recently I played some Gummy Drop!, a new match-3 game from Seattle’s Big Fish.
Gummy Drop!’s Squishy Difference
Gummy Drop! offers many of the same popular features and mechanics available in other match-3 games. You move tiles to group three or more matching tiles together. As in other games, this game offers bonuses (i.e., it makes special, more powerful tiles) if you’re able to match four or more tiles at once. You can connect with your friends on Facebook, and periodically you get to spin a wheel to win gold or boosts.
One thing that’s a little bit different about Gummy Drop! is that it also includes resource-management mechanics. That means that as you play you earn stuff, and then you use that stuff later on to meet game objectives. You can earn gold, building bricks to restore monuments, and other resources. As with most match-3 games, the storyline isn’t the most important part, but Gummy Drop! has a better storyline than most. You are a world-traveling architect who can restore the world’s landmarks by solving the game’s puzzles. For example, I started out in Sydney, Australia, rebuilding the Australian National Maritime Museum. One cool feature is that, whenever you want, you can tap the landmark you’re working to restore, and an information panel pops up with fun facts about the area you’re working to rebuild. Once you play a level, you can go back and replay it to add features to your landmark. (I added bulbs to the museum’s lighthouse beacon.)
The music and sound effects are quite nice—not too far off from what you might hear on a spa massage table. And the art is pretty. You move along the map towards the various landmarks, and when you reach the landmark’s location, the next landmark pops up in all its glory.
Like most match-3 mobile games, Gummy Drop! is free to download but offers in-game transactions. You’re given three lives to start off with, and when you’ve exhausted those you either have to wait to accrue more lives…or you can pay. You can pay for lives, boosts, resources, and gold.
I like the fact that you earn gold and bricks on every level you play, so you don’t necessarily need to invest real money in this game.
Gummy Drop! is a good game. It’s engaging, attractive, and fun to play. It might even be a good game to play with kids if you use it as a way to talk about geography and landmarks. I had fun looking up the very cool website of the Australian National Maritime Museum, for example, and reading about the collections, events, and history there.
Gummy Drop! is available now for Apple devices, and it’ll be available soon for Android.