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iPhone review of the day: Liqua Pop - stunning puzzler looks like Bejeweled sexed up a lava lamp

On iPhone
Game:
Liqua Pop
Price: $1.99
Size: 12.0 MB
Get it now on iTunes: US / UK

We know, we know - you've had enough of match three puzzlers, right? We admit, the gaming world is drenched with them. It is possible to do one of two things with the genre, though: Throw in a twist, a la Puzzle Quest, or take the basic formula and do it better than everyone else. The latter applies with Liqua Pop, which looks absolutely gorgeous and offers simplistic, addictive gameplay.

Liqua Pop is going to impress you with looks right out of the gate, so be prepared for that. As you can see in the screens here, the game offers visions of vivid green leaves and crawling ladybugs as the backdrop to your adventure. The concept behind each level is basic: colored droplets of liquid will fall into your play space, and to pop them, you slide your finger around the board to pull the similarly colored ones together. By doing so, you'll form a great big droplet you can either leave to burst by itself or pop deliberately by shaking the iPhone.

The strategy comes in when you start to time the way your droplets pop. Each has a little timer as it gets to a certain size. You have control over this timer, which is pretty cool. As mentioned before, you can pop it early with a shake, but you can also reset the timer to the start by double tapping the droplet. Manage it right, and you can pop several at the same time, which will earn you bonus points. The way you measure your progress through each level is by watching a little tree frog (ironically named Toadie), who crawls up a reed on the left side of the screen as you pop away. Rack up enough points, and he'll crawl right into the next level, spiriting you along with him.

Is that all, you say? Not at all. Liqua Pop dices up the mix by adding bugs inside of the droplets, and they have special effects. The rainbow bug, for instance, enables you to turn all the droplets around you to the same color when you pop what it rests within, so using that strategy to your advantage will prove highly useful in later levels. As the bubbles fall more quickly, you'll have to work faster or be forced to start again. Other bug types unlock too (a total of seven in all), such as the bomb bug, which creates a small explosion when freed and pops nearby drops. You'll need all these as the difficulty ramps up, so be sure to master them early on. And don't forget to keep an eye out for bugs that leave stuff behind that you don't want on your board …

One of the only failings we could find with Liqua Pop was a lack of Gamecenter support, but otherwise it's really a lot of fun to pick up and play. Controls are so simple a child could master them, and the fluid look joins with that effortlessly and makes for a very pleasant experience. We know you’ve played dozens of match three games, but this is one of the most visually pleasing ones you’re going to find.

Mar 23, 2011

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