Matching with Friends: One Zynga game that's lacking that addictive secret sauce
Gameplay sees you challenging a friend or stranger to an 11-round match where the name of the game is earning as many points as possible by making matches of three or more like-colored squares on the board. You'll be given three sets of three colored squares on each turn, and can place them either horizontally or vertically on the board depending on the board's free spaces. There are very few bonus squares on the board (these areas unfortunately become cluttered far too quickly), but when using them, you can see your score reach into the hundreds or even thousands of points on a single turn.
At the end of each turn, any group of three or more matching squares will vanish and you'll be rewarded points accordingly, while any non-matching squares remain on the board. That being the case, you'll quickly find the board filling with unused pieces, limiting the locations for placing any future trios on the board. Fortunately, a system of power-ups or bombs can be used to clear out large areas or even whole rows or columns of squares on the board, but these usually cost coins to purchase. Coins are earned by successfully finishing games, but even then, each player can only use these power-ups twice per game. If you and your opponent use these power-ups too quickly, the last few rounds of a game can be incredibly frustrating, slow-moving or even boring as you struggle to find any free space for pieces while also trying to earn even a few points in the process.
Adding complexity to the experience are permanent "wild" squares that can serve as any color, and the ability to score double the points for all matches made with a single color throughout a single game. This color is randomly assigned to each player at the beginning of the game, and can sometimes prove to be the difference between victory and defeat in close matches.
While Matching with Friends retains the intuitive menu system of past games, allowing you to start a match against Facebook friends, random opponents or even invite your Twitter friends to play, there's just something lacking in the entire experience. If we had to put a point on it, the overly easy ability to block off squares from ever seeing further play kills the mood, as satisfaction comes when you score 300 or 400 points per turn, not when you're forced to take time to find even three places where your pieces would fit, let alone actually earn you points. If there were simply an option to play a game with fewer rounds, the board wouldn't become as cluttered and the experience wouldn't become so trying. As it stands though, this is one ...with Friends game that simply isn't as fun as the others.
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What do you think of Matching with Friends? Does this game feel as addictive as the other ...With Friends games, or have you already stopped playing it yourself? Sound off in the comments!