CRUSH!, a fast-paced block removal puzzler from Radiangames, is now available from the app store and the Google Play store. Featuring a clean, minimalistic aesthetic, multiple game modes, fun power-ups, and unforgiving gameplay, CRUSH! is sure to give puzzle lovers fits.
- Clean, minimalistic aesthetic with varying backdrops
- Simple tap controls are responsive and intuitive
- Multiple game modes alter speed of play and create interesting challenges
- Nice variety of power-ups to unlock and use
- GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and achievements to earn
- Games don’t last very long, regardless of skill level
- Can get a little repetitive and/or frustrating after a while
CRUSH! plays like a sadistic version of Collapse. You are presented with a grid of colored blocks in three varieties. Tapping a block causes all adjacent blocks of the same color to disappear, while any remaining blocks fall into the newly-formed gap. The sadistic part is that the entire grid ceaselessly slides toward the screen edge, threatening to put an end to your effort. Furthermore, the entire grid also surges toward the screen edge with each screen tap. The speed at which it moves and the distance that it surges are contingent upon which of the three game modes you select. In Think, the board moves very slowly, giving you ample time to plan out a few moves. However, each tap triggers a larger surge than in either of the other two modes. The board moves very quickly in React, though the surge is quite small. Crush mode is the happy medium, as the board moves at an average speed and the surge distance falls somewhere in between that of Think and React. The goal is to last as long as possible before meeting your inevitable end. You scores are based on blocks removed in Think mode, while React bases scores on how long you survive. Crush takes both time played and blocks removed into account when determining your score.
To combat the difficulty, there are six power-ups that can be unlocked through the course of play. You can select one of these to equip while playing. These abilities include Remix (shuffles blocks around), Slow (reduces grid speed temporarily), Chop (eliminates 25 blocks closest to the edge), Blast (removes all instances of one color from the screen), and more. Each use deducts a certain amount from your coin stash, which is built up after each game by converting your score into coins. The power-up charges during the course of a game and is activated by tapping the bar at the screen bottom when needed. It also acts to stave off the end game by activating an unused power-up the first time blocks hit the end wall. This gives you a bit of a second chance while rendering the power-up unusable for the remainder of the game. It should also be noted that there is a wraparound feature that considers blocks on opposite screen edges to be adjacent, increasing your combos in ways that you may not have first anticipated. There are also rainbow blocks that take out multiple surrounding blocks. Finally, whereas most block-removal games require at least two blocks to be adjacent in order to be removed, you can eliminate single blocks just as you would large block combos. Weighing the benefits of removing a block or two here and there in order to create a larger combo with the risks of surging closer and closer to the edge and ending your run creates a great deal of tension and excitement.
The graphics are a bit reminiscent of Slydris, albeit with less neon. You can choose between a black, tan, or white backdrop, though the lighter colors tended to blend with the white blocks a bit and gave us a little trouble. The game can be played in portrait or landscape, though we preferred portrait. There are options to adjust the angle at which the blocks are tilted, as well as which direction the grid moves (up, down, left, or right). Animations are smooth and gameplay is challenging. The soundtrack has a chill vibe that seems at home in this setting. Taps were responsive, though we would occasionally mistakenly try to tap blocks at the outermost edges, which is not allowed. It’s helpful to note that holding your finger on a block will highlight all blocks that stand to be eliminated, as well as give info regarding number and potential score. Replay value is very good, as this is a high-scoring game and learning new strategies and using the right power-ups at the right time can really help you push past your previous records. GameCenter does provide a half-dozen leaderboards and nearly a dozen achievements, though a couple of the leaderboards are switched and the achievements may not be triggering properly at the time of this writing. A universal app with iCloud support for $0.99, CRUSH! is a solid 4-Dimple performer.