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Azkend

 
How do they do it?  These crazy developers continue to somehow find elbow room in the overcrowded match 3 space.  The latest success story is Azkend from MythPeople.  The nifty twist this time (beyond using hexagonal vs square tiles) is you don’t swap tiles to make matches; you trace an unbroken path across 3 or more like tiles and that becomes the match.  This leads to some insanely large matches which of course grant you bonuses and is tons of fun.  Oh but there’s more, much more.

Apart from the basic matching mechanic, the primary goal (in what’s called ‘adventure mode’) is to assemble various talismans in your quest to find the secret behind an ancient relic.  You do this by turning all game tiles blue (through matches) and once done a piece of a talisman appears on the board.  Lower this part to the bottom (again through matches) and after you have all the pieces you assemble the talisman and gain a powerup.  You can only use one talisman at a time per level so choose wisely (though if you’re stuck you can easily go back and choose a different one).  Further help comes from a lightning storm which you can create by filling up a power meter through consecutive matches made on at least 1 non-blue tile.  Thwarting your progress are special tiles covered in steel, ice or tar and fortunately 1 benevolent special tile, a wildcard.  Not to be outdone by the Joneses, the game also rewards you with achievements (called trophies here but a rose by any other name…) which is always a plus in my book.  If that’s still not enough, there’s an occasional HO (hidden object) minigame which can get you some extra time for the next few levels.
 
As hinted at above there’s a pleasant little story arc involving asian ruins and relics surrounding the entire game that provides a cohesive theme for the excellent music, sound and graphics; the production on this game is simply superb.  In fact it reminds me a good deal of Treasures of Montezuma in many ways so if you like Azkend I think you’d like ToM as well and vice versa.
 
Anyway once you’ve assembled at least 1 talisman you unlock survival mode which is a separate game type based on collecting as many stars as possible (up to 100%) within a certain time, using only that specific powerup.  A good mode which definitely adds value to the game.
 
Note in general this is a timed game which is notable in that many people prefer their match 3 games without such restriction.  However the game is very generous with the time allotment per level and I didn’t find it frustrating at all.
 
Alrighty then, on to gripes and suggestions:
  • Don’t like the autohint feature and there really needs to be an option to disable it.
  • Where’s the scoring system in adventure mode?  Half the fun of replaying is to get better scores.
  • Putting the phone to sleep midgame sometimes results in no sound on return (rare).
  • The game makes you wait for loading when you launch (expected) but then makes you wait again for more loading on the next screen, kinda irritating.
  • Adventure mode is a bit too easy and there’s no skill levels
version reviewed – 1.06
reviewed on – iPhone 3G 8GB 2.2.1
iTunes music support – no
 







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