By Eric Pankoke on Thu, 08/26/2010
It’s that time once again where I take a look at yet another match 3 game to recently enter the App Store market. This time around we have Bermuda Triangle: Save The Coral, released by Bulkypix and developed by Northpole Studio. Once you get past the whole PSA about the destruction of coral you’ll find that there’s a decent little match 3 game to be played here. While probably not the strongest candidate on the App Store, it far outweighs the myriad of poor Bejeweled clones and decent but lacking non-Bejeweled matching games. Let’s find out what it takes to save the coral.
In Bermuda Triangle you take on the role of captain of a ship, and it’s your job to release nutrients into the ocean so that the coral can once more grow and thrive. In order to do this you must make matches of three or more of an object to make those objects go away. Matches can be either horizontal or diagonal – there really is no vertical because of the way the objects line up. On each level the water has a few objects floating in it to start, and periodically more will rise up from the bottom of the ocean. You toss objects one at a time in the top row of the water. Matches can either be made by an object you place or by objects rising from the sea to create groups of three or more. Matched objects disappear and objects around them move up to fill their space, potentially causing more matches and creating chains for bonus points.
Along the way you’ll have critters that try and delay your progress. Octopus will squirt ink on an object so that it is “unidentifiable” for several rounds (a large octopus can hit multiple objects at once). The shark will run into your boat, launching your next object into a random spot in the top row. The objects themselves will start showing up more frequently with each round, and some of them will be encased in bubbles such that they can’t be cleared away until the object rises to the top row and the bubble is burst. The worst offender is the snail, however, as it slowly eats away at the coral you’ve worked so hard to grow until you get rid of it.
Fortunately you’ll be able to get power ups to help you along your way. The bomb will clear out a few objects around wherever you drop it. The wave, on the other hand, takes care of the entire top row. And, if you’re object prejudiced you can use the rainbow ball, which will eliminate all objects of the shape / color that you drop the ball on. Finally, for those pesky snails you can drop an anchor on their heads. If an object has a symbol for one of these power ups on it, you get that power up when you clear the object via a match. Otherwise you’ll earn money for completing each round which you can use to buy power ups from the shop. My suggestion with this is that you stay stocked up on anchors, but that’s just me.
In story mode you complete the game by finishing all the levels, but should a given row of objects reach the bottom of the screen you’ll have to start that level over again. In Timed and Endless modes there is no store or money, though you can still get power ups. Endless mode has you going until a row makes it to the bottom of the screen. You can also lose this way in timed mode, but amazingly you’re also under a time limit, so it’s whichever comes first – no more time or no more screen. For these two modes your score is based on the one run through only.
The main quibble I had was with the control. All you have to do is tap on the column where you want to drop the next object, but sometimes it didn’t seem very responsive. It was also kind of hard to judge where exactly you needed to hit to get it in the right column. The only other issue was that the difficulty seemed a bit unbalanced. In story mode the difficulty ramps up way to slowly, while in endless mode the screen gets filled up awfully quickly unless you make a lot of combos. If nothing else maybe there could be a couple of different difficulty settings for story mode so that things could move a little faster if you wanted them to.
The graphics are cute. There are four different ships to choose from, and I don’t think they make any difference to the game play, so you can pick the one that suits your fancy visually. The overall quality of the graphics is good, though the octopi are a bit disappointing. There aren’t lots of dazzling effects, but there are some nice little touches like the objects bobbing slightly before settling when you toss a new one in the water or little stars sprinkling down to the coral bed after a match is made. You can even watch the bed of coral grow up as your percentage complete on a given level gets higher.
The sound effects are okay. There isn’t anything that sticks out as being particularly memorable. The music is pretty good, and it seems that there are a few different themes that get rotated throughout the game. I wouldn’t suggest sitting around and just listening to the music for too long however, or you’ll probably begin to notice the repetitive nature of most of the tunes.
Bermuda Triangle is definitely a couple of notches above the average match 3 game. Is it among the best? Probably not, given some of the choices already available on the App Store. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend checking this offering out, especially if you’re a match 3 fan. The game play doesn’t feel like a clone of Bejeweled, and the graphics and sound make the whole experience enjoyable. Just keep in mind for those of you that are pretty skilled with this type of game that it is a bit on the easy side.
Overall Score: 7/10
App Store Link