Move The Muzzy!
Aliens are invading! Again! This time, the nefarious nasties are known as Muzzies, and they are immune to all our defences - but they have one weakness. When three or more Muzzies of the same colour are lined up together, they will disappear. Your task, therefore, is to move the Muzzies so that they are thus matched up and their invasion plans foiled.
Okay, so it's a match-3 puzzle game. Nothing we've not seen before, except this one's on the iPhone. You are faced with a series of levels, each of which features a varying number of Muzzies in different colours. You can either move one left or right into an empty space or swap two adjacent Muzzies - the aim is to match them up as efficiently as you can by using the fewest moves. There is no requirement to make a match with every move. When groups of Muzzies are cleared, those above them drop down, potentially making more matches.
There are two ways to play. Arcade mode is purely about your score - make as many moves as you like, but speed and efficiency mean more points. Puzzle mode gives you the same levels, but a limited number of moves to solve each one. There's no real time limit here - you merely need to complete each level in under an hour (many take less than a minute!). There is a timer on Puzzle mode, but it counts upwards, giving you a target to beat, but expect your time to be greater than you think - Muzzies seem to fall quite slowly, a few at a time, defying gravity for a few seconds like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff.
The graphics are pretty simplistic and lack any subtlety with regards to shading. The Muzzies have animated faces and a mix of expressions, and when matched they float away and disappear (the angel wings sort of imply we're killing them off, which must make Muzzy get-togethers very dangerous affairs for them and encourage some VERY careful seating plans). Each level sees the invaders arrive via flying saucer, its tractor beam not so much dropping them off as enlarging them from nowhere. Odd!
Sound effects are pretty minimal and the music is repetitive. You can adjust the volume of both independently but not actually turn either of them off (even at the lowest setting, I could still hear faint music). Completing each level results in a little fanfare, which might be better if it wasn't on a loop and thus repeating every ten seconds or so.
Move The Muzzy is very easy to play, though I found the in-game help popped up several times on the early levels while I wasn't expecting it and I accidentally dismissed it with a tap every time. I still have no idea what it said. The Muzzies are large enough to make moving the right ones easy, and there are the customary undo and restart options if you get stuck. There are also some limited hints (five in the free version, more in the unlocked version) and I seem to have earned some extra hints during play - I don't know where they came from.
I'm not sure this is a game with much longevity to it. Arcade mode is dull - a ceaseless progression of levels with no limits on how many moves you can make. If you're careful about matches and don't care much about the score, there's no reason why you can't simply form small groups one at a time until you solve every level. Most of the early levels can be completed in one move (about the first twenty) and after that you're onto two moves per level for a bit - hardly taxing stuff! I also found that, because this format of puzzle has been done to death, I not only found the gameplay familiar but I think I've seen most of the puzzles before, too.
Move the Mozzy comes in two flavours. The free version deluges you with ads - not, thankfully, within levels (though there are banners even then) but between levels and even going to the title page you can expect a full-page ad to "download this game!" appear. I'm not sure what these ads are for as they don't seem to advertise anything in particular - are they placeholders? Am I being spammed with ads that aren't even advertising anything?? You can pay $1.99 within the game to purchase the "Pro" version, which gets rid of these irritating ads and also throws in some extra hints and unlocks all the puzzles for you, rather than forcing you to play them all in turn.
But then there's the general gameplay itself. It's simple to play, but a profoundly irritating experience - it's so SLOW. Muzzies fall in small groups at a time, meaning that a winning move can take several seconds to carry out. Each level begins with a UFO depositing the Muzzies, which also takes about 20 seconds (it was several levels before I discovered that I can skip this by tapping the UFO - an option would be sensible here). And don't wait for your score to count up at the end of each level - you'll be there a very long time. The score increases by about two points a second, and a typical bonus can be in the thousands. Puzzle mode takes you back to the selection screen after every puzzle - isn't it obvious that I'll probably want to go straight to the next one?
I'm afraid Move The Muzzy is a fairly poor implementation of a puzzle game that's been around in one form or another for years now. The initial download is free, so you're welcome to give it a try - but don't expect too much. You can probably do better.
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