Match three goes 3D in Digital Embryo Studios' visually stimulating puzzle game.
The Ankh of Light? The Eye of Ra? You'll learn what those are and more in XenoCube, an impressive and feature packed puzzle game for iPhone and iPad that brings the tried and true match three formula into the third dimension.
Similar to Bejeweled, you must group three or more of the same colored objects (in this case, squares) to make them disappear. Except in this case, you manipulate a six-sided 3D cube with your fingers, searching for combinations that not only appear on one side, but can also wrap around to another, opening the door for a new way of thinking in such a worn out formula.
Not only that, but the developers at Digital Embryo Studios occasionally throw one of eight power-ups onto the play field that do all sorts of cool things, such as blowing up squares within range or igniting a fire that zips all the way around the cube, incinerating squares in its destructive path.
Before long, you'll kick start chain reactions, leveling up and proceeding to the next level.
It's quite addictive, and much better than most puzzle games of this type cluttering iOS.
It also helps the game contains so much content, starting with five modes that put a slightly new spin on things. Arcade is your standard "complete each level before the time expires" mode, but Zen Mode flips things a bit by challenging you to reach each stage before losing energy. Hyper Mode, meanwhile, tasks you with scoring as many points in 90 seconds. There's even an Augmented Reality Mode, similar to the one in Tetris: Axis for 3DS, that lets you place the cube within the "real world" via the iPhone/iPad cameras, providing you download a special card from the game's website (iPhone 4S support coming soon); XenoCube also has Game Center support.
On the downside, gyroscope controls don't add anything to the gameplay. You simply tilt to get a better view of the cube. We also don't think too highly of the built-in 3D effect that works through an adjustable slider. A bit silly, since neither the iPhone or iPad have 3DS displays, nor do the developers take advantage of 3D glasses.
Those small issues aside, XenoCube is an excellent puzzle game that'll keep you rotating cubes and scoring corner matches for weeks. Kudos to the developers for trying something different.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
What's Hot: New take on match three, slick Egyptian/outer space themes, excellent touch controls, five modes, AR mode, Game Center.
What's Not: No universal support, unimpressive 3D effect, weak gyroscope control.