There are dozens, if not hundreds, of match-3 style games available in the Play Store. The themes to these games are easily malleable by developers, based on an icon style (fruit, candy, etc), a general theme (island, WWII, etc), or as a extension of the latest popular movie or TV show branding & marketing.
The newer of these offerings falls into the latter category,
Secret Life of Pets Unleashed, offers up classic match-3 gameplay with the thematic branding of the recent hit kids’ movie. The game is plenty safe for young children, but can be played by all ages.
If you’re even remotely familiar with the match-3 style of game, this game won’t take any time at all to pick up and figure out. First step is to pick up this free game from the Play Store (link here). After download and opening, you have the customary linking to Google Play Games. There are the usual (if limited) ‘settings’ available, such as music and sound effects on/off.
From here you’re directed right to clicking on the first level (there is no avatar, background, or other setup choices to make prior to beginning). As I stated earlier, in this game’s case the theme is to that of the movie “The Secret Life of Pets” (movie available for pre-order via this link), where the pieces are dog & cat toys, and the thinly-applied plot is for you to help the pet character of the given level to successfully wait at home for its owner, doing what it does best per the movie.
Again, it’s thinly applied at best, as most of this game style’s variants are. The core gameplay doesn’t change from most others you’ve played: you have to line up at least 3 of the same icon in a row (or sometimes in other shapes) to make them disappear. This drops all icons above down Tetris-style to fill the void. If you do well (or are lucky), these fall-in icons will align with others of the same look and you get a cascading, or domino effect of icon matches.
You can also gain ‘special’ icons through various efforts of a given level, such as lining up 4 or more (this gives you a special icon that will wipe out an entire row or column once adjoined with two other like icons).
I’ve played over a half-dozen levels, and while I can tell you there are more special icons and cascade effect out there, I honestly can’t tell you definitively what they are.
This is because the action in this game is so frenetic, so chaotic, that it is very difficult to track exactly what great thing has been bestowed upon you by the particular aligning of certain icons.
At some points you can only sit back and watch the chaos unfold as icons fly in from off-screen, while others up and fly away, while at some points almost the entire screen of icons is wiped, replace, and almost wiped again. At most times I didn’t feel that I had a very manual hand in clearing a given level; as stated, most times I have no idea how it got cleared to begin with!
What I Liked
- Good colors, not too garish.
- Easy to pick up and play on a whim.
- Good for young children.
What Could Use Improvement
- Gameplay input is “locked out” during lengthly animation sequences; interrupts flow of play.
- Almost too-simple gameplay, seems hard to fail.
- Cascade/domino effects are too frenetic, almost impossible to follow what is happening on-screen.