Puzzle games – we have seen them all before. But the team at Astalavista have created a very innovative 3D block puzzle game that has some real potential. colorSWING’s app description claims it is “monumentally addictive” and “fun to play” which is true, but some vast improvements in the user interface and graphics are still needed.

There a two types of gameplay, Logic and Dynamic modes, but we’ll get to this later. The user is presented with a 3D cylinder that is comprised of colorful blocks. The blocks are aligned into vertical rows and the user rotates these rows of the cylinder to match up colors on adjacent rows. It goes further, each block in the cylinder is stacked on other blocks to create depth, so colors can only be matched up when adjacent blocks that are at matching depths. When 3 or more blocks are matched, the user double taps them to remove them from the puzzle.

The aim of Logic mode is to disassemble the puzzle, comprising of four levels of blocks. When there are no more possible combinations or the entire cylinder has been removed, the puzzle is complete. Dynamic mode begins with a single layer of blocks, that reappear at accelerating pace as more blocks are removed.

On viewing this in the app store, the interface design of colorSWING is appealing, and the vivid app icon will grab your attention (it grabbed me!). The splash screen is also intriguing, displaying a puzzle game with striking colors and unique 3D elements. On loading the first puzzle, you quickly notice that all the images leading up to the game are rendered, and what is presented is a clunky, jagged looking game board with no anti-aliasing and poor shading. Granted the iPhone 4 retina display wont help the cause, the design and shading requires a good overhaul. In a game such as this, the graphical elements are critical, as the puzzle requires the user to match blocks on the same level. This is often impossible due to the poor shading. Blocks will look as if they are aligned, but instead are 2 levels below.

The developer has countered this issue by incorporating use of the accelerometer on the horizontal plane, meaning that then the device is tilted, the puzzle rotates slightly. Although this works during a leisurely Logic mode game, it is of no use on the fast paced levels in Dynamic mode. Also more intuitive responses to gestures and wheel deceleration (similar to the picker on the iPhone) are necessary.

The points system is solid, sounds are good, customization of colors in options is a plus and inclusion of the OpenFeint platform is a winner.

In Conclusion

colorSWING is a good puzzle game concept, and recommended for anyone looking for something a little different and fun. A couple of updates from the developer to improve the 3D elements and smooth out the graphics will make this game live up to its claims of being “monumentally addictive” and “fun to play”.