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TOPIC: Swap This!

Swap This! 2 months 2 weeks ago #233

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Wow. Has it really been five and a half months since my last post?? Work has definitely been crazy busy, but for the next few weeks at least I'll be trying to catch up on long overdue posts.

First off is Swap This!, a little release by Two Tribes, a developer I've been a fan of who were behind the Toki Tori puzzle games (most recently Toki Tori 2+ a try a few years ago, and more recently, the adventure space shooter Rive. Swap This! is a much more modest affair. It was originally a mobile phone release dating from January 2011, and its Switch incarnation was released in November 2018. The developers revealed in an AMA about the game on Reddit that the game is "a further developed version of a minigame in our Nintendo DS game Rubiks World", a release that I've dipped into a bit just because it was developed by them but haven't played much.

Anyway, on the surface the game looks like a typical match-3 puzzler, which generally fall into three camps: the deliberate combo-based type of puzzler like the Tetris Attack, aka Panel de Pon series, the more frantic, busy match-3 of a game such as Meteos, or the more mindless, luck-based mechanics of a game such as Pokemon Shuffle. In its main mode Swap This! definitely falls into the "frantic match-3" mechanics, although it does have a basic chaining system whereby after you've made a match you have a short amount of time to continue making matches. The game includes typical modes such as time attack (get the highest score you can in a limited amount of time) and stages, and the untimed puzzle mode tasks you with clearing a board with a finite number of moves.

All in all this was an enjoyable puzzle game, but in a very crowded sea of similar games this isn't one that's likely to make a splash and hold anyone's interest for that long. The visual design and general persentation isn't nearly as memorable as their other, more-recent games, and by appearing on Switch the game has to uncomfortably manage the dual personality platform. The game is clearly much more at home in handheld mode with touch controls, but it does include a controller-based TV mode as well, although with no difference in how it plays or how it's scored (you'd think it would keep a separate set of scores for what is clearly a big disadvantage in terms of input modes). Despite the mobile-like price point (the game can be picked up for a couple of bucks or less as it's often on sale), it's perhaps telling that the game got higher scores in its mobile incarnation than its Switch release as it makes more sense for the former. Enjoyable for a while, but not a keeper unfortunately.

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