The puzzle genre is a perfect fit for mobile gaming. The combination of simple gameplay, high levels of replay-ability, and the fact that it’s no big deal to pause in the middle of a game make them ideal for a subway ride or waiting in the dentist’s office. Bad Apples, free from Metaversal Studios, takes a classic puzzle game concept and gives it a new that rewards strategic thinking.
The game starts with several rows of fruit: tomatoes, blueberries, and pineapples. They can be swapped up, down, left, or right, or moved left or right into empty spaces. The goal is to create rows or columns of three fruit or more of the same kind in a row. Doing so removes those fruit, and adds to the good fruit meter. After every move, or after double tapping the screen, a new row of fruit drop. However, there are also bad apples, and creating rows and columns of those will add to the bad apple meter. The true goal of each level is to fill up the good fruit meter before the bad apple one; don’t, and you lose. If a column is at the top when a new row falls, the column disappears, but the bad apple meter is significantly filled up.
There are also special fruit to help and hinder when they’re removed. The special tomatoes and pineapples will destroy other fruit, good or bad, while the special blueberry will turn bad apples around it into regular fruit. There’s also a super bad apple, which will deduct more points from your score. In addition, there is a stone which will smash the fruit below it every turn, until it leaves the screen, and the worms, which will turn the fruit they’re in into a bad apple and then move on to the fruit next to it.
Bad Apples has four difficulty mode, with each mode making the rows wider. The exception is the hardest mode, frantic, which adds a timer where, if you don’t make a move before it runs out, a row will drop automatically. There is also a puzzle mode. There, you are given a set-up, and only so many moves to clear the screen with. No rows drop in puzzle mode.
The mechanism of the two meters makes thinking ahead highly important in the game. Learning how to handle scenarios, creating the maximum number of good fruit rows while minimizing the number of bad apples, gives the game a lot of replay value. There’s also a significant point bonus for combos, further making it important to look two or three moves ahead.
There are, however, some issues with the controls. For one, the “shake to fall” option, which drops a new row, is incredibly sensitive. Often, you’ll trigger it just by putting the iPhone down. Also, when you try to move a fruit in the top right corner, it will often trigger the option menu instead. The sound effect and music are also cheesy, but they can be turned off, and you can listen to your music while playing the game.
Fortunately, the positives highly outweigh the negatives in Bad Apples. It’s a game that rewards intelligent play, and that reward keeps you coming back for more. Bad Apples is an ideal commute time killer.