It wasn't all that long ago that Luke Schneider of Radiangames was spelling out the fragile reality of life as an App Store developer. A blog post on his website revealed low sales figures for his previous game Bombcats, and news of the planned closure of the highly-regarded studio as a full-time endeavor.
But during the final development stages of that cat-flinging physics puzzler, he'd been toiling away at another game, one that's more in the vein of Slydris, and going by the name of Crush! Like Slydris, it's a game about managing blocks, but it's a very different take on this old stalwart of gaming.
Tapping on the game board's connected colors causes them to evaporate, then everything beneath shuffles upwards into the empty space. The gentle push of new tiles from the top continues as you clear, however, and if the stack reaches the bottom of the screen, it's game over. Interestingly, the outermost colors of the grid can't be tapped upon, so you have to very carefully remove patches of color to bring these edges into play for clearance. The end result is a game that appears almost effortlessly simple at first, but in fact requires careful concentration as well as fast fingerwork.
There are three different modes in the game: Think, React and Crush. In the first of these, you have all the time in the world to carefully remove color segments, although the wall of new colors pushes down harder than usual. In React, it's a race against time as the wall moves downwards at a somewhat slower pace. Crush, on the other hand, sits somewhere between these two, offering up a meaty challenge indeed.
To help you towards a new score, you can choose a power-up before the match begins, and this upgrade becomes available as you reach scoring milestones. One power-up allows you to shuffle the colors on the board, while another detonates 25 of the blocks nearest the bottom of the pile. If the action's a bit too much, you can slow down time to give yourself a little more breathing space.
All in all, Crush! is an outstanding example of a game that's easy to learn and very hard to master. Delivered with the trademark, crisply polished presentation of every other Radiangames title, what you're left with is an essential purchase for any mobile puzzle game. We can only hope that Crush! finds the success it deserves on the App Store, and that this isn't the last game we get to play from this talented developer.
What's Hot:A superb, taxing puzzle game with all of the care and polish you'd expect from the studio.
What's Not:You may find the challenge and rapid failure rate a turn-off.