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Review Book of Life: Sugar Smash
Match 3 movie tie-in
Author: Tariq Abdulla
Date: 28 Oct 2014, tested on HTC One S
Funny sounds, quality graphics, dynamic game play, no ads
Takes a bit too long to load
Book of Life: Sugar Smash for Android is a match 3 game that ties in with this autumns 3D comedy animation The Book of Life. The Book of Life is sure to be a smash hit, and this game is guaranteed to become popular; especially with children (and children at heart) who want to keep the film experience going.
The game has real audio clips from the movie, and the characters are recreated faithfully. There's around 90 levels to work through, with more in progress. The music is appropriately Mexican style, and doesn't get annoying straight away. The map is animated with pretty lighting and parallax effects. When you do well the characters shout "Santa granita" and "Santa chihuahua" excitedly, or even "Aye-aye-aye!", and it makes you want to do well again. Every level is completed with the words "Sugar smash", which is rewarding. But if you hear the same in-game soundclips a few times in a row, it starts to get a bit annoying. For a game best played in short bursts, this takes a little too long to load when you first open it.
I often complain that these Match 3 games are just too easy. This one actually ratchets the difficulty up pretty quickly after the first few levels. From about level 10 onwards, you'll find it's not that easy to complete each level in the given number of moves. The game does try to push extra moves, and extra lives, as an in-app purchase, or as a bonus for connecting to Facebook. When you're out of lives, you'll need to wait 15-20 mins to get a few more goes. Be sure to password protect in-app purchases if you let a child play.
Book of Life: Sugar Smash has a couple of twists on the classic match 3 formula. Match 4 or more candies, and you produce special types for wiping out horizontal/vertical lines, or crosses. Rainbow candies can be matched with anything, and will destroy all candies of the same color. In some levels, you need to navigate special items to baskets at the bottom of the levels. Sometimes you get weapons, like the pig which wipes out a whole row, or the maracas which wipe out a whole column, They've done a good of integrating theme elements into the game, but there's isn't anything totally original here. It would also be better if there was more of a story arc, with perhaps the occasional short clip from the film.
These things aside, I was surprised by how addictive the game was. You want to keep finishing one more level to see what comes next. I think that's partly because they've made it challenging.