During a preview of Zynga's brand new arcade game, Ruby Blast, Zynga Seattle design director Jonathan Grant makes an interesting point. "There have been hundreds and hundreds of match-three games on all kinds of platforms, and the category has been around for more than 20 years." That Grant even feels the need to bring it up speaks volumes for not just Zynga, but the state of the entire scene.
It's easy to bill Ruby Blast as "just another match-three game," and many probably will. But Grant and his team want you to look closer and notice the strides they made to help this puzzler stand out. In collaboration with Zynga China, the social game giant's first release from its Seattle Studio is also the company's first game to take advantage of Flash Player 11. The glitz and glamor of Ruby Blast is what players will likely notice first.
That's especially considering the mode of play for Ruby Blast isn't a far cry from games like Diamond Dash in that all you need do to make gems explode in bits of bling is click groups of three or more--no dragging required. The other hook to this puzzler is akin to the popular Diamond Mine play mode in Bejeweled 3, but with an admittedly intriguing twist.
Just like Zynga promised with Bubble Safari before it, players can enjoy Ruby Blast near-indefinitely ... if they've got what it takes. As you destroy jewels buried in the earth's crust for protagonist Ruby Stone, you'll clear away rows of dirt, sending your session deeper into the ground and adding extra time to the clock. Each crack at a high score costs energy, which refills over time--naturally.
Like any good puzzler on Facebook, players will want to go for that high score, but for perhaps an even better reason than crushing your friends on the weekly leaderboards. Players that place in the top three in each week's leaderboard will earn extra currency with which to buy power-ups before each round. Speaking of which, Grant prides himself and his team on the various power-ups in Ruby Blast.
As a glittering stream of stars obliterates columns of gems during a game play demonstration of Ruby Blast, Grant tells us that the Star Fall power-up alone is powered by six particle effects. (Thank you, Stage 3D.) Before each round, players eventually earn the option to choose three abilities with which to tackle their friends' high scores. But these aren't one-off boosts. Power-ups like the explosive Nova Flare and Cherry Bomb replenish as players clear like-colored gems.
Along the way, players will also find that their friends serve as useful power-ups. As you dig deeper, your friends will appear in your round as "friend gems," special row and dirt-clearing gems that you can fire off at will. Grant promises that, later this year, Zynga.com players will get to go head-to-head in real-time multiplayer bouts of Ruby Blast.
While it's certainly not the first match-three game even on Facebook--and not the first to center around shiny minerals by a long shot--Ruby Blast furthers what seems to be a new direction for Zynga, one headed toward games that demand more of their players than time management skills. Ruby Blast is
set to debut this week now live in 15 languages on Facebook and Zynga.com.
Play Ruby Blast on Facebook now >
Are you excited for Ruby Blast on Facebook? Will Zynga crush the competition in the match-three world, too? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.