Starting life as a short-lived premium purchase on the iStore, Mighty Match relaunched under the ‘Playmium’ model being championed by Gigataur and for the moment remains the only entry in their inventive ‘free to play forever’ scheme to include RPG mechanics.
Setting you in the role of an avian adventurer, Mighty Match is another entry into the ever-increasing Match 3 RPG hybrid that seems to be all the rage at the moment. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t do plenty to differentiate itself from the crowd, and there are some inventive tricks in play that hope to breath a breath of fresh air into a crowded genre.
Visually, Mighty Match employs 3D models for characters and environments throughout with some 2D elements implemented to make up the user interface and HUD. Everything is textured in a cartoony manner and on-screen elements are large in scale, allowing for a graphics engine similar to that of a high-end first generation PlayStation title, though the games content would fit more happily with a comparison to the Nintendo 64. Everything is bright and vibrant, with the screen panning smoothly and a lot of active elements on screen at any given time with no visible slow-down. The hero aside, design can be a little unimaginative, with many enemies seeming a little dull in the early stages, though more imagination does begin to filter through as the game continues. The added treat that equipment shows on the player character in real-time as selected before a mission does add the game some visual flair.
In terms of music there are some nice tracks to be found here, with the title screen having a particularly haunting theme that belays the games cartoony nature in favour of adding a touch of mystery. This continues to play under the initial menus and world map, growing in intensity and is only replaced by the level tunes, which vary depending on the island you visit. Sound effects work less favourably, being limited in scope and repeating frequently. Some nice vocal noises are added to the game to simulate speech without having recorded dialogue, with the games tutor character repeating a word that sounds like ‘pom pom’ in a deep manly voice, which works well.
The narrative of this title is surprisingly light given the strength of the main character’s visual design, though you will encounter dialogue between enemies and from your tutor, all aimed at hinting at a bigger picture or prompting your next move. You hop into the role of Chouchou, a bird warrior who wields a sword and shield in addition to a having a limited magical inventory, travelling in linear fashion from floating island to island as you slowly cross the distance toward a distant goal. It’s incredibly light stuff and played primarily for laughs, but it does serve the function of sending the player off on his task and throwing a number of different environments in front of him/her.
Gameplay makes a number of changes to the existing Match 3 formula, the most impactful of which is that the game plays as a standard turn based dungeon crawl with the goal being to reach the exit with one of three possible mission-goals (displayed on the left of the screen as icons) attained. Ever space not occupied by the main character is filled with an enemy, chest, breakable scenery or one of four icons for magic, attack, defence and money. As you move you swap places with these and breaking things allows them to flow like water into the spaces available. Matching any three or more icons will cause them to vanish, temporarily buffing that stat for the remainder of the level. As long as the game doesn’t throw a timer or tight move-count at you are quite free to hang around matching these up to your heart’s content, and can usually meet most objectives relatively quickly whilst building up a considerable lead on the strength of the monsters available on that level. Environmental elements do come into play as well, with some levels seeing you need to light fireworks to blow open blocked passages, make use of lifts and even run from giant rolling boulders. Combat works in standard Rogue fashion with your character trading blows with a monster you’re moving toward until its health or yours gives out. You can support this tactic by matching three of them to kill them all in one go, or by using magic that comes in various forms. The whole game controls by flicking Chouchou in the direction you want to move, or operating the menus on screen with simple taps and this flows very well indeed. Chouchou also levels up with experience, healing immediately in-levels and gaining stats through killing monsters and can charge up to take on a Hulk-like persona that deals extra damage with each attack. Outside of levels you’ll progress across a map of each island one site at a time in linear fashion until you have completed the whole thing (with one to three stars of mastery) and unlocking the next as you do so. Each island has a different theme and can be jumped back to from a simple sub-screen. The money you’ve collected can be used to buy equipment and level it up to five times, adding potency, as well as increasing your base MP for spells and unlocking/levelling spells in the same manner. Though there’s a limited magical arsenal on display the game quickly makes use of most of it in problem solving and on some occasions makes having certain spells essential to completing a level. The games design is based around amassing large quantities of in-game cash to buy all of this, and unlike a freemium title the Playmium manner of implementing gathering more coins without having to grind levels comes into play early on. You will have to watch a video every five or so levels to continue playing, which is easy to do and doesn’t last more than a minute at worst, but you can also choose to watch more videos for financial rewards that scale with your character’s level. In this manner traditional grinding through play is replaced with grinding videos instead. Much like paying real-money for in-game cash, this does effectively break the games difficulty level and is something of a cheat, but compared to being asked to open your wallet every time you get stuck and inflating the difficulty accordingly, the Playmium model is an admirable one.
Overall, Mighty Match is an interesting fusion of Dungeon Crawl and Match 3 genres wrapped in an excellent payless model that players should appreciate. Whilst it’s not going to be challenging by its watch-to-earn nature, it has been designed brilliantly and plays very well. There’s very little that this title does wrong, and many things it does extremely well. Sadly the lack of a captivating campaign does let the game down a little over longer play sessions as the drive to continue begins to well-up. This said it’s a perfect title to play in smaller, snatched sessions around other tasks. Download it free and try it for yourself and remember to support Playmium to see more of this kind of content on mobile devices.