The one thing that kills 10000000

, | Game reviews

One of the best ways to bring your game low is to fumble the basics. Imagine a shooter where the mouse sometimes turns off. Or a turn-based game that sometimes just skips your turn. Or a driving game where the car occasionally turns left when you turn the wheel to the right. That’s the sort of stuff you need to work out before you make the rest of your game. 10000000, a high-pressure time-based match-3, didn’t get that memo.

Which is too bad, since the rest of the game is pretty addicting. Taking a page from the superlative Dungeon Raid, 10000000’s match-3ing progresses you through a dungeon crawling adventure. Match swords and staves to attack monsters, match shields to build up your defense, match backpacks to earn power-ups, and match keys to get into chests and through doors. Your grid is also clogged up with stone and wood, which you can match to build up your supplies. Use this to upgrade the castle where you’ll spend gold and experience points to improve your character between games.

The name — which is awful — is based on trying to get your high score to a million. This is impossible at first, but once you start buying better equipment and unlocking new abilities, a million points gets plausible. Perhaps even inevitable. A potion shop lets you equip elixirs to tweak the rules with modifiers like doing less damage in favor of a higher chance of critical hits, or converting stone and wood into gold. It’s got a pleasantly Bastion feel to it. And overall, it’s all the sort of stuff that will absorb any videogamer.

But unlike Dungeon Raid, this game has a hard time limit. A little adventurer runs along the top of the screen, encountering randomized obstacles that will gradually push him off the edge and end your game. It’s up to you to keep him alive by matching as fast as you can and, more importantly, as precisely as you can. But unlike most match-3s, you don’t simply swap the place of two tiles. Instead, you grab a tile and scroll the entire row or column as far as you want. However, when you grab a tile, even the slightest jiggle in one direction will confuse the game into thinking you want to go left and right when you instead wanted to go up or down. There is no room for this sort of interface-based frustration in a game this relentlessly timed, a game so ruthlessly based on hurrying up and dragging a tile so far, a game demanding speed and precision. All the cool stuff 1000000 gets right — the strategy, the long-term persistence, the loot, the leveling up — falls apart when I have to back up and align two tiles just so in order to convince the game that I want to move in the direction I want to move. It doesn’t happen often. But it happens regularly enough to kill what would otherwise be a pretty cool game.

2 stars