7 Elements turns match-three into a multi-touch experience on iPad

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Even with all of the games that come and go in the match-three genre, in my mind, there are still few that can compete with the master Bejeweled Blitz. Even on iPad, where match-three games excel, few games have been able to stand up to the quality of PopCap's gem. CocoaChina's 7 Elements is incredibly similar to Bejeweled Blitz, and it's a great game in the process. Whether or not it can actually top PopCap's original though remains to be seen.

The biggest hook to 7 Elements is the inclusion of multi-touch controls. While players can freely play the game with a single finger as they would any other match-three game, 7 Elements takes advantage of the iPad's multi-touch capabilities by supporting up to three fingers at a time. It's an interesting twist that allows for massive score boosts, if you can actually train your body and mind to look for and activate more than one set of three matching symbols at a time. 7 Elements plays as a timed experience, challenging you to earn as many points as possible within that small time limit, and this creates an incredibly chaotic experience as a result. Perhaps if the game offered non-timed play, it would give players a better chance to learn this multi-touch way of playing, but as it stands, it's still much easier to just play the game with a single finger as we're already familiar with doing.

Aside from this twist, 7 Elements plays as you'd expect, with great graphics and sound effects to back it up. There are seven different types of gems, as the name suggests, and each relates to a part of nature - fire, water, air, and so on. Making a match of four or more like symbols creates a power-up that must be matched to activate. These tend to relate to their elements, as water causes rain to wash down from the top of the screen, knocking out the gems below, while the fire power-ups sends flames shooting upwards, knocking out the rest of the column.

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If you have fast enough fingers, you can also activate a frenzy mode that will double all points earned for a short period of time afterwards, but this frenzy mode is really difficult to activate. Its charging meter takes incredible speed or luck to fill, but we'd assume that's only to further encourage playing with more than one finger in order to make two matches at once.

For a game that costs $0.99 to purchase, 7 Elements actually plays a lot like a free-to-play game, as you'll be encouraged to spend more money on coins for power-ups that can be activated at the start of every game. These power-ups may allow you to have extra time on the clock, or increase your score multiplier, as examples. Again though, these cost coins to purchase which are difficult to earn for free (you'll be lucky to earn 100 coins in a single game), so being asked to spend more real money in a game that you've already spent real money to purchase is simply wrong.

Even aside from the costly power-ups, the overall experience of 7 Elements is really enjoyable. Even match-three masters will find a challenge here, as the frenzy mode is difficult to activate, but never so out of reach as to feel impossible. In the end, 7 Elements would probably perform better as a free-to-play game, but it's definitely worth the $0.99 if you're looking for another match-three title to sink some time into.

Download 7 Elements for $0.99 >

Have you tried 7 Elements on iPad? Have you been able to master the multi-touch gameplay, or do you just play with a single finger as normal? Sound off in the comments!
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