Match three styled games can be an entertaining and challenging way to pass the time with. The Windows Phone Store is full of these type games and they are the focus of this week’s Windows Phone Central Roundup.
We’ve all likely played or seen these styled games before where you are presented a playing field that is full of assorted items be it gems, jewels, bottle caps or other items. These games challenge you to swap the items around or connect them to create adjacent matches of three or more of the same items. Most of the match three games award you with bonus items if you create matches that go beyond the three of a kind variety.
This week we picked four of the top rated match three Windows Phone games to highlight and we’ll add a few honorable mentions in for good measure. If we’ve overlooked your favorite match three styled game, feel free to sound off in the comments below.
Bejeweled Live+ (trial/$2.99)
The Bejeweled series of games has been a constant presence in the match three gaming arena for ages. The original Bejeweled game was my first experience with the match three gaming style and might have been yours as well.
Bejeweled Live+ is an Xbox title that is available for both Windows Phone 8 and 7.x devices. It is the most recent Bejeweled title and includes five gaming modes where you are tasked with creating matches of three or more of the same jewel.
Gaming modes include:
- Classic: This is your classic setup for a game of Bejeweled. You create matches for points and advance through the levels of play. The higher the level, matches become harder to find. When you run out of match possibilities, the game ends.
- Diamond Mine: The Diamond Mine game has your gaming board with jewels to match but part of the gaming board is undisturbed ground. You create matches next to this un-dug ground to expose more jewels to match. You have to dig to certain level before time runs out to advance to the next level. Fail to reach the mark in the allotted time and the game ends.
- Lightning: This is more or less a Classic game but under time constraints. You have to create matches to earn extra time and if the timer (a progress bar at the bottom of the screen) strikes zero, the game ends.
- Zen: This game mode is an endless game that adds soothing ambient sounds to game play. Zen is designed to boost your brain with positive mantras and ease your stress.
- Butterflies: Here you will find a collection of butterflies that can be matched with the jewels. The challenge comes into play with a spider that rests at the top of the screen. As you create matches, some of the butterflies will fly up the gaming board. You have to make sure the butterflies stay clear of the spider’s grasp. Should one fall prey to the spider, the game ends.
The gaming screens are fairly universal with your gaming board taking center screen and your scoring being displayed just below the gaming board. Bejeweled Live+ also has a hint button at the bottom of the gaming board that, when tapped, will reveal an available move. You also have an automatic hint setting in the gaming options that will reveal a move automatically after a few seconds of inactivity.
As with many of the match three games, if you match more than three jewels during game play bonus jewels or power-ups will be created. With Bejeweled Live+ these power-ups can wipe out rows of jewels, all adjacent jewels, destroy a particular style of jewels and more. There are also plenty of pop-up windows that will guide you through game play and another nice touch is a replay button that is available throughout the game to re-play all your gaming highlights.
As with any Xbox Windows Phone game, Bejeweled Live+ has Xbox achievements to unlock (twenty of them) that will be reflected on your Xbox gaming profile.
Graphics are well drawn up, game play challenging and there is an addictive quality to Bejeweled Live+. There is a free trial version available with the full version of Bejeweled Live+ currently running $2.99. The game is available for both Windows Phone 8.x and 7.x devices and you can download your copy of Bejeweled Live+ here in the Windows Phone Store.
Frozen Free Fall (free)
Frozen Free Fall is a Windows Phone 8 game created in the spirit of the Disney movie Free Fall. The game takes the match three style to a new level with a gaming story line that has 195 puzzles to complete. Characters from the movie join in on the action as gaming companions. These companions have unique power-ups that can help you complete your tasks.
The 195 puzzles follow a path charted out on a map of the Kingdom of Arendelle. Each puzzle or level has a specific goal to reach (set score, collecting special items, etc.) within a set number of moves. Reach that goal without running out of moves and you advance to the next level.
You also have levels where you have to race against a clock to reach these goals. Each level is graded from one to three stars based on your performance (score, amount of time used, etc.) The higher your score, the more stars you earn that can be used to earn power-ups.
Should you fail a level, you will lose a heart. Hearts can be replenished with the passing of time or purchased through an in-app purchase. You also have daily bonuses that can add lives and power-ups to your inventory.
Frozen Free Fall does a good job of walking you through game play with tutorials running throughout the levels of play as new features are introduced. Game play is challenging, not only with the dual goals but also with odd shaped gaming boards. Graphics and animations are well done and overall, Frozen Free Fall is a very nice game to have in your Windows Phone gaming library.
Frozen Free Fall is a free game that is available for Windows Phone 8 devices. You can find your copy of Frozen Free Fall here in the Windows Phone Store. There is also a Windows 8 version of Frozen Free Fall available here in the Windows Store (freebie as well).
Jewel Miner (free)
Jewel Miner is one of the older (if the oldest) gaming titles in this week's roundup. The game takes a bit of a unique approach to the match three games and is available for both Windows Phone 8.x and 7.x devices.
As you would guess, you play the role of a miner who must match at least three or more of the same styled rock to collect them. However, instead of swapping the rocks around to create the matches you tap on three or more of the same styled rock and then tap the crusher at the top of the screen to collect them.
As you collect the rocks, mining carts at the bottom of the screen begin to fill up. Filling all the carts up will complete the level, earn you a day’s pay and you advance to the next day or level of play.
The gaming board starts out small but as you play Jewel Miner, more gems begin to populate the board. Should the gaming board become full of gems, the consequences vary depending on the gaming mode you are playing. Speaking of which, the three gaming modes for Jewel Miner include:
- Crush: Fill your mining carts with gems to advance to the next level. When the board fills with rocks the game is over.
- Endless: You are still tasked with filling your mining carts but when the board fills up, you collect fewer gems in the mining carts.
- Arcade: This gaming mode begins with the carts half full and the pace of the game is a little quicker. When the board fills up, you collect fewer gems in the mining carts.
The transition screens between levels have your miner spending his earnings to build a homestead.
Jewel Miner may not have as many bells and whistles as other match three styled games but is still an enjoyable game to pass the time with. The pace of the Crush gaming mode picks up as you progress through the levels and will keep you on your toes.
Jewel Miner is a free, ad-supported gaming title that is available for both Windows Phone 8.x and 7.x devices. You can find your copy of Jewel Miner here in the Windows Phone Store.
The Path of Kara (trial/$1.99)
The Path of Kara is a math three styled game that takes you through the story of Kara, a young shaman, who is on a quest to save her island. You solve the puzzles within the game to collect items that will help Kara in her quest.
The Path of Kara has over seventy levels of play with plenty of tutorials to help you get a handle on things.
Game play follows the match three style by connecting matching series of items that rest adjacent to one another. As you remove items, additional items are re-supplied from the top of the screen.
Some levels take on an arcade feel where you have to reach a scoring goal before time runs out. Other levels are more of a logic challenge where you have to unlock specific features of the gaming board or collect a set number of items. Regardless of the goal, each level is timed and you must meet the level’s challenge or goal before the clock strikes zero.
The Path of Kara does a nice job of offering you a variety of puzzle challenges.
Levels do begin with dialog screens that can be skipped if the storyline takes a backseat to game play. Scoring is based on points collected during game play and the time remaining on the clock. Each level can be replayed to improve your overall score.
The Path of Kara takes the match three gaming style and adds a little more meat on the bone with the story based missions you have to accomplish. Graphics are well done, game play challenging and there is an addictive quality to The Path of Kara.
There is a free trial version available for The Path of Kara with the full version currently running $1.99. The game is available for Windows Phone 8.x and 7.x devices and you can find The Path of Kara here in the Windows Phone Store.
Best of the bunch?
Choosing the best of the bunch is a bit of a task with these four games. All four have entertaining, challenging puzzles to master and all are nicely drawn up.
Jewel Miner is the simplest of the group with nice graphics, decent game play but not a lot of bells and whistles. Jewel Miner is a good game to have in your gaming library for those times when you are in the mood for a match three game that breaks away from the traditional gaming mechanics.
Bejeweled Live+ has a lot of gaming options and has deep roots through the previous versions. Pop Cap games have done a good job developing this gaming series.
Both Frozen Free Fall and The Path of Kara takes the match three gaming style to a slightly higher level by adding a storyline and adding more than scoring goals to meet with each level. It may come down to a coin toss as to which is better but I think you get more gaming out of these two titles.
Along with the four highlighted gaming titles in this week’s roundup, here are a few more match three games worth looking into.
AE Cap Mania (free): Instead of jewels, you are matching bottle caps with AE Cap Mania. To add to the challenge, swaps are made diagonally instead of horizontally or vertically. (Store Link)
Treasures of Montezuma (trial/$.99): Treasures of Montezuma is another story based match three game that has forty-one level and three gaming modes. (Store Link)
Maleficent Free Fall (free): Disney's Maleficent Free Fall is a darker, more intense version of Frozen Free Fall that includes seventy-five levels of play, spread out across five chapters that represent various stages in Maleficent's life. (Store Link)
Fruit Frenzy (free): Instead of gems, jewels, or rocks Fruit Frenzy is a match three game where you create matches amongst happy-go-lucky pieces of fruit. The game includes over 100 levels of game play and rather colorful graphics. (Store Link)
Match three styled games are a great way to pass the time and can be rather addictive gaming options. Hopefully, we've touch on a few that will be of interest and if we have overlooked your favorite match three Windows Phone game, feel free to toss out your recommendation below in the comments.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.