iPhone and iPad owners will never want for colourful "match three" puzzle games. Nor will they be starved of clones (read: blatant rip-offs) of console and Flash games for their mobile devices. So why recommend Food Chain?
It's free. It's a simple puzzle game with a well-explored mechanic. But most importantly, it is a faithful swipe of perhaps the greatest tile-matching game, Super Nintendo classic Tetris Attack (also released as Pokemon Puzzle League, Panel de Pon, etc), a game that will never see an official release on the iPhone or any platform not controlled by Nintendo.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of Tetris Attack/Panel de Pon, it involves the horizontal swapping and movement of tiles. Stack three tiles of the same colour on top of each other or side-by-side and they'll disappear, causing the tiles above them to fall, filling the void. This relatively simple concept can lead to complex combinations that require great dexterity and foresight, should one want to maximise their scores.
Opponents can send junk tiles to their rivals, filling the screen with grey, unmatchable blocks until the player makes a tile match nearby.
Food Chain for iOS generally gets that, copying Tetris Attack's systems wholesale -- or at least attempting to, even without understanding its intricacies.
Tetris Attack gameplay works fairly well on an iPhone touchscreen. Unfortunately, the speed and control finesse required to play a proper, high-scoring game of Tetris Attack does not translate perfectly to iOS devices, feeling just a bit more sluggish than it should. Worse, though, is Food Chain's failure to recognise certain tile matches (particularly T-shaped connections), resulting in a sub par attempt at cloning Nintendo and Intelligent System's great puzzle game.
But, hey, Food Chain is free and it does a serviceable job of imitating Tetris Attack with single-player Story, Time Attack and Endless modes. Story pits players against a series of kooky, colourful characters who settle their differences with competitive tile-matching brawls.
There's even a multiplayer mode, which I did not get to experience. But suffice it to say, there's a decent package here for your download, one that hopefully improves upon its shortcomings with time.
Grab it for free from iTunes.
Food Chain [iTunes]