Puzzle games come and puzzle games go, but few make a real mark. The successful fw have all combined pressure, mental agility and control dexterity. Rather than stressing speed, the emphasis is on intensive forward planning, to make players sweat out a solution. A brave departure from the normal puzzler format, Swap is initially so bewildering to play it's not entirely clear why you should play.
Multi-coloured swap shop
You are presented with a wall of multi-
Swapping routes have to be calculated, so that similar tiles aren't isolated when its neighbours disappear. This is complicated by the variety of sizes and shapes. Each one needs specific playing tricks if too many tiles aren't to be left hanging space and unable to swap.
Swap isn't a fast game: even the timed levels are temporarily generous. It's a cerebral test of thinking ahead, working out which tiles will disappear as a result of any particular swap. You are rarely stranded with unswappable tiles at the end of a level, though, as there are a number of points debiting cheats on offer. An avalanche introduces gravity to the situation, pulling all the remaining tiles to the bottom of the screen and removing any resultant matches. Some spare tiles can even be bought at a direct points cost, to match up lonely solo tiles and make them vanish. Even these cheats aren't limitless and real caution is needed if you want to leap through the levels and clear that wall.
Progress throughout the game isn't sequential: the more efficiently you clear any screen, the more points you earn and the higher the next level you have to face will be. IF this isn't to your taste then a level designer is on hand for some self-
To hook or not to hook?
The puzzles are formed by the limited movement and the disappearing nature of the tiles which combine to form this strange puzzler. Swap doesn't develop these inherent gameplay strengths, but it doesn't really need to, it merely dishes out more complex permutations with far fewer cheat. The unfortunate side of this is that if it doesn't hook you straight off, it never will.
There are few traditional puzzle-
The lack of physical interaction with Swap, gives it a cool if not cold feel though. There's little excitement while playing, a factor which could be easily balanced with big pay offs elsewhere. Yet, no such pay-offs are to be found and the interest in completing levels wanes. And without player interest Swap's longevity is limited.