Developed and published by Lucid Games, best known for their work on the excellent Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, Happy Happy Donuts is a match-three game for iPhone and iPad. It’s set for release on September 2nd and will be free to download. The game contains in-app purchases, but while it does follow the Candy Crush model to some extent, it’s not nearly as limiting or overbearing.
As there are approximately 4.5 billion match-three titles available on the Apple Store, Lucid has tried putting a spin on the setup by asking you to rotate your donuts to form matches. At first it doesn’t seem like it makes much of a difference, but as you progress the game starts to flash its potential by showing you how to effectively rearrange the board by migrating donuts across the screen. Is it revolutionary? No, but it feels less tied to luck than many similar titles.
Once you start creating matches of more than three donuts you’ll get bonuses. Four creates a donut with a bee on it; clear it and you’ll take an entire row with you. Other numbers and configurations create different power-ups, such as a bunny that will eat all like-colored donuts to the one you feed it or an octopus that consumes everything around it. Again, these are takes on things we’ve seen many times before, but they feel more strategic here.
In terms of presentation, Happy Happy Donuts is colorful and cutesy, but on an iPhone 6 screen it’s not always easy to distinguish the pastries from one another — it’s fine when making actual matches, but when trying to create “customer orders” where you must match X number of specific donuts the small pics don’t do you any favors. The decision to give the donuts animal characteristics (green donuts are frogs, pink are pigs, etc.) doesn’t work all that well, either.
While the goal is always to clear donuts, the game varies up its restrictions on how to do that. One common one is to limit the number of moves you can make, or ask you to clear all donuts with a particular characteristic. Finish with moves to spare and you’ll bank extra points with each level working off the very familiar three-star system.
Fail to reach the goal and you’ll lose a life. You can carry up to five, and they regenerate every half hour after you lose them. If you’re in a rush you have the option to purchase additional ones through in-game currency; you can earn this by summoning the Rainbow Raccoon (don’t ask) or by using real world money to buy. Upon failing you’re offered more turns for extra coins, ala Candy Crush.
Although it’s nothing special, Happy Happy Donuts at least tries some different things in a vastly overpopulated genre. Given that it’s free there’s no compelling reason not to try it.