Up next is the mind-expanding SET from Pockent LLC.  This game was invented in 1974 by Marsha Jean Falco and now exists in several formats; the iPhone is the latest platform to feel the love. 

The goal is quite simple and will remind some folks of those tests you used to take in elementary school to see how ‘gifted’ you were.  You have to find ‘SETs’ of 3 out of 9 total cards with specific characteristics.  At the basic setting this is how many symbols (1-3), type of symbol (oval, diamond, squiggle) and color (red, green, purple).  The advanced setting adds 12 total cards and a shading (solid, striped, outlined).  A set then consists of 3 cards in which each individiual feature is the same for all…or different for all.  When you make a set, typically all 3 cards are removed and new ones take their places such that there’s never 2 of the same card onscreen at once.  For example the cards ‘1 green solid squiggle’, ‘2 green solid squiggles’ and ‘3 green solid squiggles’ are a SET as their features are uniformly alike (all green, all solid, all squiggle) while the cards ‘1 green striped diamond’, ‘1 red solid oval’ and ‘1 purple outline squiggle’ are also a match as their features are uniformly different.

The developer did their best to spice up this simplistc format with a few game modes, each playable in basic or advanced:

  • Classic – find 10 sets in the shortest time possible.  You aren’t penalized for taking all the time you want but the point of course is to challenge yourself to beat your best time.
  • Puzzle – find all the sets (4-6) in a static (cards are not replaced) set of cards as fast as you can.
  • Timed - find as many sets as you can in 1 min with each set adding a few seconds (literally) back to the clock. 
  • Arcade – find as many sets as you can in 1 min but sets add 30 more seconds each time.  Very similar (way too similar actually) to Timed but as you might expect a bit easier.

So let’s see, what this game is: mentally engaging and great for short stints in waiting rooms etc.  What this game is not: terribly exciting.  In fact it’s on that fine line between good puzzler and boring puzzler.  Possibly more interesting than the game itself is the story behind it’s creation; have a read if you’re keen to know.

I could see the game being more fun with multiple people present to help find the sets so that’s something to keep in mind if you have kids around for example.  In fact, kids might be the best candidates for this game period as the whole concept of pattern-matching seems appropriate to the younger population.  What’s sorely missing in general is the ability to save games in progress.  Basically if you have a great game going but don’t have time to finish you can pause but if you exit the app it’s kaput.  It might also be fun to see a rank attached to scoring in certain time ranges (for example SET Rookie or SET behind the ears or SET us up the bomb or SET-sational) which would give you more incentive to try and beat your score.  Speaking of score, a global scoreboard would of course be welcome.

For the price being asked, I think it would be good to offer a lite version so people can see if this is the kind of casual puzzler that’s worth the dough.

Version reviewed – 1.0.1
Reviewed on – iPhone 3G 8GB 2.2.1
Global scoreboard – no
iTunes music support – yes if you completley disable ingame sound
Lite version available – no

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