Games: Super Collapse 3

I downloaded this game at the same time as Peggle Nights (both were already paid for), but waited, as usual, for an opportune time before installing it. We had company (friends of my husband) downstairs where Al and I usually play together, so I agreed to install a new game.

Super Collapse 3 is a “match 3” game, which I just learned is a type of game that goes back some two thousand years. After the fall of Rome, the idea of the game (no ancient gameboards survived) was preserved in medieval monasteries. Professors from England brought the game to America when they went to teach at Harvard. The games became very popular in America for the next two centuries. There was a popular match-3 game show in the 1950’s, but it was quickly cancelled after evidence surfaced that the producers had “fixed” the game.

I suppose there were so many inexpensive games available in the next few decades that match-3 games lost their popularity. I certainly don’t remember playing any, or even being aware of their existence, until Al started playing them on the computer. They’re relatively easy to create and easy to play.

Some of the match-3 games I have played previously (and reviewed here) are Luxor, Newton’s Nightmare, Ultra Block, and Mr. Peanut Matchup. Of these Super Collapse 3 is closest to Ultra Block, but unlike Ultra Block it has very “modes” of play. Classic mode is very similar to Ultra Block, though it differs in one helpful way: when there are no available moves the game speeds up (temporarily), so you not only don’t have to wait as long to make the next move, but you always know whether there is or isn’t a move available.

One challenging variation on this is “Relapse” mode. Unlike any other match game I have played, this one has two “bases” to play simultaneously, one at the bottom of the screen (which is normal) and one that starts at the top and grows down. I assume that you lose if the two sets of blocks meet in the middle, but so far I have won all those levels on the first try – despite the strangeness of blocks “dropping” up when other blocks are removed.

Another very interesting variation is “Slider” mode. Instead of remaining stationary on the screen (except when blocks below them vanish or drop), the blocks are constantly in motion. Some rows move left, while others are moving right. The challenge is to catch a group of at least three same-colored blocks while they are together – which doesn’t last long at all. And by the time the blocks above drop down, they may be in a different spot that when you planned your move – if you can even plan at that speed. Mostly I just react and hope I hit something.

I haven’t really gotten the hang of “Strategy” mode yet. You have more time to plan your moves, but you’d better plan them well, because each time you click on some blocks, more are added at the bottom. (I think none are added except when you click.) So you’d better remove more blocks than will get added. In classic mode, you can do quite well by finding groups of just three, but doing it fast. In strategy mode, that’s a quick way to lose.

Then there is “Puzzle” mode, where no blocks are ever added. The screen starts filled with blocks in a pattern, and you choose which groups of colored blocks to remove in which order, realizing how the other blocks will be positioned after they drop to fill the gaps. As they do, previous separate groups of the same color will become contiguous, allowing you to remove them all with one click. The idea is to remove all the blocks (you lose if any blocks are left over, such as only two of one color at the end) in as few moves as possible.

All that appeals to me, but it might not appeal to Al as much if it weren’t for the quests. (This is why I picked it as a good game for us to share.) He likes a game with a storyline, and this one has you move through different places on a map. Along the way you can also stop at Stores to buy helpful items such as color bombs (they remove all blocks of a single color) or hints. And you can go to Casinos and use coins (which you earn by winning levels of the game, and by blowing up “unmoveable” blocks) in games of chance such as a slot machine.

 The storyline is hardly as interesting as Bookworm Adventure, where you are exposed to elements from classic literature, and where both the bookworm and its opponents have interesting personalities. I’m not sure it even has as much of a storyline as Peggle Nights, where characters were dreaming (that’s where the title comes from – they’re asleep at night) of doing whatever it is they have dreamed (as in wished) of doing.

But it’s new, which is often enough of an appeal for a while. And there is a Quick Play for when you just want to play a certain “mode” such as Relapse or Slider, so I can work on getting better at those. At least, I can play them in Quick Play once I have “unlocked” them, which either requires a certain level of success at them in Quest play (I’m not sure if it’s number of games won or superior stats when playing), or spending coins at a Store to unlock them.

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