• My Little Pony: Puzzle Party Review

    Howdy, folks! TheSlorg here, and you may remember back in July we posted a short article featuring Andrea Libman talking about her role in the latest official MLP mobile game—My Little Pony: Puzzle Party by Backflip Studios. If not, you can find that article here.

    Well, after giving it a good, thorough play through, I figured I'd post my thoughts on the game for anyone who has yet to decide whether or not to download it. I do realize this may be coming a bit late for many of you, but I wanted to ensure I'd seen everything the game had to offer before passing judgement.

    So sit back, relax, and prepare for the good, the bad, and the pony!

    When you start up the game, you'll end up on the screen below. You may scroll to the right to access more levels. The stars above each level represent how well you've done, with three being the best. Naturally, I chose a screen from early in the game so I could show off my three-star skills!

    As you can see, the art style of the show is captured beautifully in this game... for the most part. More on that later. Getting back to the screen below, the heart next to my avatar represents how many tries I have, with five being the maximum (unless you pay to unlock a permanent sixth try). Failing a level will lose you a try. The coins are used for purchasing various power-ups, and can be earned for free if you're lucky enough to get them from the daily login bonus that is available. They may also be purchased with real money.

    The train icon allows you to visit other areas you have unlocked, such as the Everfree Forest, Cloudsdale, and Sugar Cube Corner. The scroll icon is your message inbox. The ribbon icon brings you to the Achievements screen, and the tiara icon brings you to the Leaderboards. The Discord Infinite Mode has you playing an increasingly difficult series of levels with special interference by Discord himself.

    There are currently 143 levels in the game, though more will be released at a later date. I've personally completed every level, and I managed to do so without paying a single bit. That's not to say there aren't levels that seem to exist for the sole purpose of extracting your hard-earned cash from your wallet or purse... because there are a few levels like that. One of which took over 80 attempts to complete. More on that later, though. Let's have a look at one of the levels.

    Again, the colors and graphics here are superb. Bright, simple, easy to understand. Applejack up there is fully voiced and animated. Yes, you read that right. Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tara Strong, and Tabitha St. Germain are all on hand to lend their voices to the Mane Six. We also have Cathy Weseluck voicing Spike. Unfortunately, a few characters in the game are not voiced, and it is a bit jarring when you're listening to Twilight Sparkle speak to a character who responds with silence and a wall of text. Still, it's impressive that there are as many accurate voices as there are.

    Back to the levels themselves: the basic idea is straightforward. You match two or more identical element cubes and they will disappear. The goals vary from level to level, from removing a set number of specific elements, to breaking apple buckets like in the example above, to causing various objects to drop to the bottom of the stage. There are a surprisingly large number of goal variations throughout the game, with each of them requiring new elements of strategy to complete.

    Along the way, you can earn various power-ups that will assist you in clearing the board and attaining those goals! In the picture above, you can see a lightning jar power-up which is earned by matching at least 5 cubes at once. Click on the lightning jar to send lightning through the entire row or column of cubes, depending on which way the jar is facing.

    Above, you can see another power-up in the form of Zecora's cauldron, earned by matching at least 7 cubes at once. Tap it to blow up each of the cubes that surround it. Below, you can see the final power-up that can be earned on the board: the parasprite. Earned by matching at least 9 cubes together, its color will match the element's color used to earn it. Touch it to cause parasprites to eat every cube that shares its color.

    Three power-ups may not seem like much, but you can also combine their powers if they are triggered while next to each other. This can cause some epic chain reactions, or even clear the entire board in one move! Additionally, there are six more power-ups that relate to each of the Mane Six that will be unlocked over time, and are earned by clearing enough of that pony's element cubes from the board. These range from Applejack bucking any single cube from the board, to Twilight clearing every cube of a certain color.

    Match the cubes, use the power-ups, and hit the goals and you will clear that level. It will then be party time. Don't believe me? Observe.

    With 143 levels, excellent art, authentic voices, and plenty of variety, it would seem that My Little Pony: Puzzle Party is just about perfect, right?


    Well, no. It does have its flaws. For one, there are the aforementioned missing voices. That's more of a nitpick than anything, but it is worth mentioning. Then there is the art that is usually perfect. Some of the animations are a little... off. It is hard to describe the exact problem, other than it just feels wrong. On top of that, there were a few hilarious glitches during my play through that, among other things, caused Applejack's eyebrows to detach from her face. I'm not making this up.

    There is, however, one thing I haven't touched on yet in this review: the actual gameplay itself. How does it stack up?

    Well, it's inconsistent. Don't get me wrong, the game is certainly fun. The problem is that some of the puzzle mechanics on certain levels rely on the 'luck of the draw,' so to speak. I played one level over sixty times before I finally got a setup that made victory possible. Others might play that same level once and get a perfect setup to win. There are at least two levels that I am almost certain were designed specifically to make you want to purchase power-ups, draining money from your bank account. I was very much ready to write a negative review of the game due to these, but my persistence paid off and I managed to beat every level without paying any money at all. Proving that this is possible was crucial, and I'm glad I gave it a fair chance. Having proven that you can complete the game without paying anything, I can only fault it for inconsistent difficulty, rather than for having levels that are impossible to pass without paying.

    When all is said and done, the games faults aren't enough to take away from its overall rating. Fun little additions such as achievements and interactive backgrounds make this a very solid free to play game that fans of MLP and casual gamers are sure to enjoy. Download it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below!

    Update: Apparently the game is currently only available in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand. It's due for worldwide release soon, so consider this a preview if you can't download it yet!