This wonderfully addicting, wonderfully designed (and wonderfully free this week, here: MUJO) puzzle game might on the surface seem like just another iOS app store match-3. And, to be fair, it has its share of tropes, but they are few and they aren’t intrusive to the game experience.
What I like about this game is that it’s a fairly standard match-3, and doesn’t necessarily do anything that I’ve never seen before, but it does introduce one thing that you don’t see often in these types of games: strategy. You will not be successful at this game (nor will you have fun) if you speed through it, tapping everything in sight at full-steam-ahead pace. And that’s a refreshing trait to have, given the eco-system it’s living in.
Where the game lacks though (and what I will propose to change), is in focus. The design is solid, the mechanics are thoughtful, and even the music is whistle-all-day catchy. But there’s no focus to the objective of the game.
The game needs more goals. They don’t have to be on-the-nose, like “collect 1000 yellow tiles” or “finish this level in 1 minute.” While those types of goals can be fun for some games, they might not be what this one needs.
Later in the game, I am fairly certain that the difficulty level spikes in a way that will supersede the need for goals anymore; the new goal then is to actually have the skill and strategy to complete a single level. But in the mean time (for the first 20 some odd levels or so) they might implement:
- Introducing a tile type that you can collect that isn’t just the swords and the experience for your “Gods” (other similar games have introduced “Magic” to collect for spells, or “Shields” to ramp up your own defense, although in this game you’re not being attacked directly ever)
- Having special events occur when certain things happen. Maybe if tiles of the same color make certain specific and rare shapes (like an “S” shape, or a 3x3 box), then something different happens to the board temporarily
- Have the enemy interact with you more. It’s literally just sitting there, waiting for you to attack it the entire time. Having more involvement and resistance from the enemy is even in itself a new goal for the player, outside of the other numerous possibilities for game design there
- Have meters that the player needs to fill, for each color (including the red swords), which can then be used for something. This might give me more of a reason to “tap” on the tiles instead of “tap and holding” (which by the way, on its own is already an absolutely amazing game design mechanic, that creates constant tension in the gameplay)
This game is wonderful as it is, and I am simply suggesting additive improvements, not necessary ones. :)
January 9, 2015