Puzzle Family Vs - A fun Multiplayer game plagued by bugs
Puzzle Family VS - Com2US
Price: Free [App Store]
Played On: iPod Touch 4th Generation 8gb.
I found this via iTunes after re-downloading the developer's older game, World of Tunes which was a delightful rhythm tapping game I owned on my old 3rd gen iPod Touch.
Initially trying to log-in was a herculean task. I signed up for the HUB, which is recommended if you play to play this for awhile. You can play as a guest account, but you won't get 2000 free coins to buy items and power-ups. And trust me, those power-ups will be needed as you move up in rank.
The game is rather simple. You have options to play either single player mode, or go online. Online Battle starts you off in the novice mode. You begin with a specific amount of points and a starred rank. You win against other people, your points go up, you lose, and they go down. As you move up in ranks, soon you'll be able to access "Master" (The Silver medal room) and "Legend" (The gold medal room). There is also a "Everyone" room where you can play against anyone.
You start off with two playable characters, Akoo who is your generic player, and Niece who is your female character. Akoo is a bald child with rosy cheeks. He is your default character when you sign up. After those two, you can get other characters either through earning enough coins (which you can either buy via In App Purchase, or earn naturally by playing other people online) or by actually paying via In-App Purchase. The only character you can purchase through coins in the "Uncle" Character, a man with a goatee who adds 10% to your slot item initially. The other two, Sister and Lil' Brother, both have special effects. Akoo and Niece both lack special character abilities.
Various avatar items can be purchased and worn. Almost all have unique abilities, and some are purchased through coins, others through In-App Purchases.
When you play the game online, you are automatically matched with someone around your level. Once you both hit ready, the game starts. You are greeted by a board set with different colored rectangles, each color with it's own face. Stack three in a row to clear them from the game. To your side is the power-ups that you have added.
To add power-ups, after selecting the channel, you will see a blue bar with three circles and an X in the middle of each. Press that, and you are taken to the power-up page. The red circle with a Block and a + on it is free, as well as the blue circle with an Arrow Pointing up. Both are unlimited as well and won't cost you anything to use them. You have to build them up via clearing tiles in the main game, and you can use them after you have built them up.
The others each come with an initial amount to use. You can purchase more through coins. Each item has a different recharge rate. The block with the + adds a row of blocks to your opponent. The Up Arrow removes one column. There are also power ups in the main game too that appear as blocks on your field. You move them to another side, and let them go. For example, the block with two arrows pointing left and right will clear an entire row. I have an issue though, as you cannot place the power-up right were it was spawned. If you have a column on your right that you want to get rid of, you cannot use the power-up that appeared on the field to eliminate it. You would have to either keep stacking the blocks, OR use a power-up that you have to your very right hand screen.
The more combination of tiles you stack, the more tiles you send to your opponent, and vice-versa. Combo's are made via stacking one color together in a single column, and then stacking another without breaking turn. For example, I place one red tile on a column of two reds, then I place a single blue tile on a stack of two blues without moving another piece. The more combos you make the more your opponent gets.
Also, while you play, your field shifts upwards towards you in the span of a single row at first. You can manually move it upwards by touching the screen and pulling towards yourself. However, if you go past the boundaries with any single column, you will lose. The object is to get your opponent to overflow his/her side of the field. Once you get close enough to the end, the game alerts you that you're almost about to lose.
The controls are fairly tight, but in panic mode you can make mistakes and the game will not move the tile where you wanted it to at times.
You earn coins whether you win or lose, but you will lose a certain amount of your points while your opponent gets the same amount of points added to their total score. You can add opponents as your friends if they are not guest characters, and likewise they can add you. You can also keep playing with the same person multiple times as long as they want to play with you.
The game is fun, addictive even. But it is marred by a few problems I've faced. The initial connection issues have been dealt with as of now. It's now easy to find an opponent to play against. However, the game still force-closes sometimes after you win or lose. And when that happens, you don't appear to get any of the points you so rightly deserved if you've won. It doesn't happen every single time, but it happens quite often where it's almost enough to give up on the game.
The game also force closes when you open up the shop and buy items. Then you have to restart the game, which takes a very long time to load up and login. While the game is being played however, the online match is solid. It's just right after winning or losing that you risk getting nothing for your efforts.
Another problem is the fact that half the items you want to purchase are only available through In-App purchasing. Not through the coins, but through actual credit/cash. Thankfully all of your power-ups use coins.
Basically, this game is quite fun to play, however the force closings and the polarity between coins and In-App-Purchases hold back this game from greatness.
I give this game 3.5 stars out of 5, due to the force closings on my device.
Perhaps it's only my 4th Gen 8gig iPod Touch that's the problem, but it's enough where I think twice about playing it.