Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Release Date: 2 November 2018
Price: $1.19 / £1.09
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Swap This!, from developer Two Tribes, is an adorable little match-3 puzzle title tasking you with swapping blocks of ice in order to free the colourful fish inside. As much as I enjoy match-3 puzzlers, does Swap This! have what it takes to set itself apart and be a charming and fun game on its own? It started out as a mobile title, but is now out on the Nintendo Switch with improved visuals and a great entry price.
When a Tile Comes Around, You Must Swap It!
Admittedly, a new matching game probably isn’t going to excite you, but Swap This! isn’t your standard match-3. There are four gameplay modes: Fish Fight, Wave Mode, Minute Match, and Puzzle. For each mode, instead of the familiar side-by-side swap mechanic, Swap This! allows you to swap fish from anywhere on the board. Make a match of four or more and the little coloured fish-cubes break and your cute little fishies can swim to safety.
Fish Fight mode sees you constantly battling to prevent a giant fish from surfacing and gobbling up all your blocks. Minute Match is, as the name suggests, a quick time-based mode in which you only have a minute to complete the task at hand, and Puzzle mode challenges you with emptying the screen in as few moves as possible. Finally, the fourth mode is an addition for the Switch version; Wave mode - where your goal is to clear each wave as quickly as possible, while the matches become more difficult to make.
The similarity to many other match-3 puzzlers is its main hindrance, although there are some neat tactical elements that make Swap This! worthy of consideration. For example, if you manage to isolate a section of blocks through your matching exploits before they crack open, they’re cut free too. Then there’s the ability to add fresh blocks to a match after it’s been initiated, so long as you’re quick enough. Many of these strategies are simply variations on things that have been done before, but this means that Swap This! isn’t as shallow as its initial presentation would have you believe.
For The Fish!
I only played in handheld mode, as this game was created to be played on a touch-screen. Even then, I would not recommend playing without touch controls as the precise movements are the only way to gain the highest scores. You can definitely tell this was a mobile title at some point, with visuals that are colourful and nice to look at, but without really adding anything to the experience.
I will say, I did love how when you would run your finger along the Switch screen, the water underneath the puzzles would ripple, adding a cool looking effect to an otherwise bare-bones presentation.
Two things to note about Swap This! is that while the touch controls did feel intuitive, it was difficult to get a firm grasp on the Switch and became somewhat uncomfortable after longer play sessions; not that you will necessarily play very long at all.
Also, I found Swap This! to be a lot more stressful than I would have imagined for such a casual game. I would have imagined the pace to be a tad less grueling, and I was mildly surprised by the lack of an untimed mode. For the more competitive types, there are leaderboards, but no multiplayer of any sort.
Overall, Swap This! is a charming match-3 puzzler that is fun for short bursts, but really never sets itself apart from the plethora of other polished match-3 style games out there. The simple gameplay mechanics and cute visuals make for an enjoyable experience, but most likely this will be forgotten rather quickly. For such a low price though, it’s worth checking out to see if it has what it takes to find a place in your Switch library.
Pros & Cons
+ Charming visuals
+ Intuitive touch controls
+ Solid match-3 gameplay mechanics
- Generic presentation
- No multiplayer
- Lack of gameplay modes and longevity