Chip Chain on iOS borrows too many ideas to be the next big thing

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At first glance, AppAbove Games' Chip Chain on iOS is simply a clone of Zynga's Gems with Friends, and while this new poker-themed match three game does borrow too many ideas to be called a truly "original" game, it offers enough tweaks outside of gameplay to deserve at least a glance.

Chip Chain comes with four gameplay modes, but none are truly multiplayer. Each mode sees you being given a selection of numbered poker chips that must be placed in groups of three or more on the game board at the top of the screen. Even after a chain of three chips has been made, they won't vanish, and you'll need to tap again on the chain when you want to destroy it. The more chains you can create without placing an additional chip, the higher your chance of earning bonus points, but at the same time, leaving these chains sitting on the board will cause you to quickly find yourself backed into a corner.

In each mode, you'll have to keep track of an invisible "dealer," as the computer will automatically place another chip onto the board at random each time you place one yourself. This doesn't so much make the experience more challenging as it does severely impact the amount of strategy and forethought you can use while playing, as your massive combo can be entirely ruined by a rouge 1 or 2 chip that's placed by the computer through no fault of your own.

The inclusion of power-up cards gives you more control over the game, as you can purchase and play cards that will allow you to instantly swap the location of a single chip, automatically raise the digit on a chip by one number and so on. You'll only receive three cards for free, while the others can be unlocked over time given enough patience or money.

While the game's four gameplay modes offer a bit of variety in terms of time limits and chips in your reserves, only two of the four are available each day, and you're again encouraged to spend real money to unlock all four for play forever. The game also locks the use of the number 9 chip, and offers a slew of other helpful upgrades behind expensive unlocks. Players can technically unlock these items for free with enough play, but they're so expensive that many players will likely move onto other games before ever earning the amount of gems necessary to unlock them.

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It would have been nice to see Chip Chain offer multiplayer against friends, even if that would have made the game even more similar to Gems with Friends than it already is. As it stands, your current progress can be shared via social networks and on the game's leaderboards (via Game Center), but the amount of time it would take you to unlock the game's best cards or features really kills the incentive to keep going, especially if you find a gameplay mode (of the four) that you really like, when there's no guarantee that it will be available to play the next day.

Chip Chain takes a familiar gameplay premise and adds in some unique ideas, but it doesn't have the magic flair that games like Gems with Friends or even Triple Town ultimately offer. Still, if you'd like to try the game for yourself, you can now download it for free on iPhone or iPad.

Click here to download Chip Chain on iTunes >

Have you tried Chip Chain? What do you think of this take on the match-three number/puzzle game? Sound off in the comments!
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