Every time I write a review about a match 3 style game I like to remind my readers that the App Store is flooded with these types of games. As a result of that, it takes something special for me to want to write about one of these games, and I think Cylinder qualifies for that distinction. It's unusual that I care much for a match 3 game that doesn't have any real gimmicks or cool power ups or anything like that, but Cylinder has one feature that really make it intriguing to play - the playing field is a cylinder (yep, that's where it gets its name from). This play mechanic make Cylinder different enough from the pack that it's refreshing to play, and it doesn’t hurt that the game looks pretty sharp and sounds good as well.
For those of you who might not actually be familiar with the genre, the idea behind a match 3 game is that you have a playing field full of objects, and through manipulating those objects you must match 3 or more (or in the case of Cylinder 4 or more) of the same objects in some sort of configuration to clear them from the board. In Cylinder the objects simply need to be next to each other, so any shape will do. There are no diagonals here, however. When objects are matched they disappear from the board, and any objects that were on top of them fall down. If the resulting cascade causes another group of 4 or more to form they will be removed, and so on. In Cylinder there are 3 modes: endless, puzzle and relax.
In endless mode there are two meters at the bottom of the screen. The top one slowly empties, and when it’s completely empty a new row is added to the top of your cylinder. This bar empties more quickly with each level, which is represented by the bottom meter. Each time that one fills up you gain a level. There are two other modes as well: puzzle and relax. Relax has no time limits and is basically a “one shot” in that you get a completely full cylinder, and you keep matching objects until there are no more objects to match. This mode is really meant for practicing the art of setting up combos and making bigger matches. The other mode is puzzle mode. This one is rather interesting, because you are given a certain number of pieces and a certain number of moves to clear all of those pieces.
I need to recant my opening statements just a bit. There are actually two special types of objects in Cylinder. The first look the same as the regular objects but have a silver background. These objects can be used to form a combination with any objects of the same color, not just the object on the silver background. In other words, if it’s a red circle, you can use it as a wild card for matching any group of red objects. In addition to helping make a match, the object directly across the cylinder from the silver backed object will be removed as well. The other object is a silver star, and this is earned by clearing 9 or more objects at once. A silver star can be matched with anything, and when it’s used in a match all objects of the color of the rest of the objects in the match will be removed.
Playing the game is pretty straightforward. You rotate the cylinder by dragging your finger across the screen or tilting the device. There are sensitivity settings should you decide to use tilt mode, but I prefer dragging to rotate. To actually move the objects you click in the center of four objects, and two buttons will appear: one to rotate clockwise and one to rotate counterclockwise. Either click one of the two buttons or click somewhere else on the screen if you decide you don’t want to rotate the selected group of objects. The nice thing is that there doesn’t actually have to be four objects in the group you’re rotating. This allows for some nice strategies that require you “dropping” an object to a lower level. I do find that occasionally it’s hard selecting just the right place to get the group you want, but it’s something you’ll get used to rather quickly. I do wish that the buttons would stay up until you clicked away, in case you want to rotate a group more than once. The other minor annoyance with game play is that at the end of each game it asks you about submitting your score to scoreloop. I really wish there was a way to turn this off, but at least you can cancel out of it.
Cylinder looks good, at least in the foreground. The cylinder itself looks pretty slick as it’s twirling around, and the nice little sparkles and shimmers when you do things like selecting a group and making matches add a nice flair to the game. I even like the little fly-bys when you’re moving to a new level, even though that still annoys me because it disrupts the momentum of the game. By far the coolest effect is when the cylinder rises out of the ground on each new level. Unfortunately, the platforms and backgrounds are a bit bland, but then that’s not really where your focus is going to be most of the time anyway.
The sound effects are pretty nifty as well. Rotating objects sound like you’re turning the dial on a lock, and when you make a match it sounds like someone strumming a violin. The music is also nice, though it sounds like a very small loop that they’re repeating. It’s not so noticeable when you’re playing the game, but if you leave a menu on for any length of time it can get a bit old. That’s too bad, because it’s a nice piece that might well be worthy of listening to on its own if it were lengthened quite a bit.
Cylinder is a great example of developers taking a bloated genre and adding a fresh twist to it. This may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the more popular 2D matching objects games, but it has the a quality that’s so much more important: the more I play it, the more addictive it gets. Long after I’ve solved the adventure mode in most other matching games, I’ll come back to this one again and again to see if I can get farther on endless mode than I did before. Plus, the limited pieces / limited moves puzzle mode is icing on the cake. If you love puzzle games in general or are especially fond of match 3 games, Cylinder should be in your collection.
Overall Score: 9/10