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Tomb Breaker

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Breaking the rules of match-three

Product: Tomb Breaker | Developer: Simple Machine | Publisher: Simple Machine | Format: iPad | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Tomb Breaker iPad, thumbnail 1
The path to innovation is full of dead ends. Just because something's a little different, that doesn't mean it's worthwhile.

That's what playing Tomb Breaker reminded us. It might look like yet another Bejeweled clone, but it actually plays quite differently.

The trouble is, it doesn't improve on PopCap's established match-three template in any way.

Game, set, match

You're still matching coloured gems in a square grid, but this time you're freed from having to swap adjacent gems in order to match three.

In fact, you only have to match two, and as long as the gems are sat on the same horizontal or vertical row, you can match away by sliding your finger from one to the other.

The trouble with this is that it eradicates all but the most basic semblance of forethought, planning, and challenge. There will always be an obvious match on because, well, there'll always be plenty of gems aligned.

Simple patterns

Of course, this change in approach does open up a new tactical element. You can chain as many same-coloured gems as possible, and you'll get bonus points for crossing over yourself or ridding the screen of one colour in a single turn.

The thing is, this sprawling gem-matching system feels one-note. All you're doing is picking out basic patterns and tracing your finger through them in the optimal way.

IAPs explained
Tomb Breaker is free to download, but you'll need to splash the cash eventually if you want to really compete at the top of the high score table.

You can equip up to three power-ups before each 60-second round, which range in value from 3,200 to 7,100 gems. You'll start with enough to blast through a good few rounds.

At this point, £1.49 / $1.99 will buy you 100,000 gems, which should last you a little while. If you really find yourself hooked on the game, you can spend up to an eye-watering £34.99 / $49.99 on 5 million gems. Ouch.
There are also up to three power-ups that can be activated prior to each level, each of which sucks up some of the game's gem currency. These are key to boosting your score to a competitive level, so it's slightly irksome - if inevitable - that you'll have to pay real money to keep your stash topped up.

That's Tomb Breaker for you. It's a new, shallow take on the gem-matching puzzler with an ultra-modern social freemium twist.

But when you look at the genre classics that came before - and which are still immensely playable today - you have to doubt this game's ability to last the course.
Tomb Breaker
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 22 May 2013
Tomb Breaker is a reasonably fresh but extremely shallow gem-matching puzzler. It proves mildly diverting, but fails to add anything meaningful to the genre
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