Boozle, is a match-3, Bejeweled style game which centers around drinking and eating junk food. Like other games in the genre, you have a grid of different items and you must make matches of 3 or more of the same item by touching two adjacent pieces and swapping their positions. In Boozle, these items are a variety of different junk food and alcoholic beverages including hot dogs, pizza, beer and bottles of alcohol.
The app store is already packed with match-3 style games, so if you want to compete with already established titles like Bejeweled or Puzzlings, first you need to offer gameplay that is just as good and compelling, and second, offer something new and interesting that sets your game apart from the others. Unfortunately Boozle only manages to meet the second criteria. The game introduces a somewhat interesting new game mechanic, where you must always keep a constant balance between your food and beverage intake. Make too many matches of one type or the other and you’ll see the meter at the top of the screen start shifting between “drown” and “gorge”. If your “partying” gets out of hand and you fail to keep a proper balance, then you will puke and it’s game over.
In theory, this twist should drive some really frenetic gameplay, but in all actuality, Boozle hardly ever presents players with any sense of urgency. You can pretty much take as much time as you want between moves (without any consequence), carefully alternating between food and drink to easily keep the balance right in the middle. The only time the meter might sway largely is if you unintentionally chain a few matches in a row, causing the balance to suddenly shift in either direction. Unfortunately, the only time we felt really challenged IS when this happened and we needed to race to make a match to stop the bar from reaching either end. Vivid Games really needs a mode with a timer to speed up game play, making the game more reaction-based. Another idea would be to start blurring the screen if the meter starts shifting to far toward to “drown” side. Just a few ideas to consider.
Boozle just feels much too slow (even the load time) and isn’t nearly challenging enough. Some players may enjoy Boozle’s slower paced gameplay, but we suspect a large number of people picking up the game are going to expect a faster-paced challenge (like Bejeweled Blitz) or a leveling of some sort to break up the game. Hopefully Vivid Games can find a way to add a little pep, because we do think their yin and yang balancing mechanism really is a nice twist on the genre.
When you have a game that centers around eating and drinking as much as you can, the ability to brag to others is key! There is a nice set of built-in statistics and Facebook integration, but Vivid Games should really also consider adding some sort of global leaderboard functionality through OpenFeint, AGON or Plus+.
Vivid Games is billing Boozle as a “crazy party in your iPhone, without the smell.”, but n the end we felt like we were invited to a Frat party and when we showed up, it was just a bunch of dudes. Boozle has some decent sound and graphics, but the game needs some tweaking before its engaging enough for us to want to stay for the party.