I picked some pretty adorable match-3 games for this week’s blog that you can check out and earn valuable points for downloading through our Louder Rewards apps! Shameless self plug. These are some pretty good quality apps that you’ll have fun with, even though none of them are groundbreakingly innovative. That’s a great segue into this week’s theme, which is the importance of building good quality apps; people love apps that look and feel like top tier games, and all of our apps this week are very well built.

This week’s test subjects were Bill and Julie, who gave us a very contrasting dynamic of avid casual gamer vs non gamer. Julie, who helps test our apps, has not only played all of these apps before, she has downright mastered some of them. In fact, she was stoked to hear that she’d be testing Gardenscapes, because she’s put literally hundreds of hours into this game! I think she’s gonna destroy Bill’s score.

Gardenscapes

Bold move on Playrix Games’ part, going with the very butler-looking balding butler as the Gardenscapes app icon. Nevertheless, Gardenscapes has surpassed ten million downloads! This is so much more than a match-3 game. It’s The Sims meets Candy Crush, bringing a ton to the table in terms of gameplay, objectives and a storyline. This butler lives to serve you, walking you through the dozens of objectives to complete through the match-3 game, which is almost like a minigame inside the dozens of other quests in Gardenscapes.

As I mentioned, Julie already loves Gardenscapes, and has put a hundred hours or more into this game. Julie plays every day, typically when she’s kicking up her feet after a long day at the office. She rated every category for this game a 5/5 except the music, which she gave a 4. Bill, not a gamer, not even casually, was a little more critical of his scores, but still rated Gardenscapes the highest game of the week. Bill pointed out the depth of narrative this game has, which is really what sets it apart from every other match-3 game out there. Out of our list of provided words, Julie calls Gardenscape fun, challenging, creative and addicting. Bill says it’s catchy, challenging, creative and addicting; very similar impressions!

Gardenscapes is such a hit because it uses the match-3 aspect of the game only as a minigame to unlock more of a bigger, deeper game. Most match-3 games don’t go any deeper than the first layer. Players like Julie love Gardenscapes because it’s easy to pick up, easy to put down and easy to pick up again. Maybe also because that butler is smooth as hell.

Panda Pop

Panda Pop is a match-3 bubble popper with an adorable spin on the classic genre. The stakes have been raised, you have to rescue and return panda pups back to mama panda! That certainly makes each shot count, doesn’t it? Panda Pop adds its own flavor to the match-3 family with the cute characters and objectives, but it’s still a classic match-3 blaster at its core.

Unlike Gardenscape, there are no other objectives to Panda Pop. Simply shoot the colored balls into the other matching colored balls. That’s where our test subjects both agreed that Panda Pop is about as shallow as puddle in Texas (I just made that up). The highest ratings from our test subjects were in the categories of app stability, payoff and likelihood to recommend. Julie plays Panda Pop just about every day because she says it’s an easy way to earn points through our Louder Rewards app, by playing every day.

According to Bill, Panda Pop is repetitive, generic, easy and amusing, while Julie thinks it’s repetitive, easy, familiar and enjoyable, another very similar review from two very different gaming backgrounds.

Cookie Jam

This game gave me a cavity. I get hungry just reading the title, Cookie Jam. Just look at the app’s icon, it’s got macaroons and rainbow cake… It really doesn’t get any sweeter than that! Cookie Jam is a match-3 game that doesn’t go as deep as something like Gardenscapes, where the match-3 game itself is almost the secondary objective, but that doesn’t make this game dull.

We all agreed, this game tickles your sweet tooth. Especially since the further you get into the game, the more delicious treats you start unlocking. Bill and Julie rated the stability and reliability of Cookie Jam 5/5, which includes a high score for loading time. Those were the only categories Bill, who’s a developer, rated highly. Which is a compliment, coming from him! Besides the quality of the app itself, Bill wasn’t a fan, even going as far as saying he’ll probably never play Cookie Jam again!

Julie plays Cookie Jam pretty much every day, so she had many good things to say, including compliments about the creative and delicious-looking treats. Julie recommends this game to friends all the time, whereas Bill says he won’t. Bill doesn’t understand why we’re blowing up cakes and cookies, and you can’t really blame him for asking the important questions. For having such different opinions, the words they chose to describe this app were very similar with Julie calling Cookie Jam repetitive, cute, easy and amusing, and Bill calling ti repetitive, cute, easy… and annoying.

Bubble Witch 3 Saga

King is a king in the casual gaming world, giving us one of the most iconic casual games of all time, Candy Crush. They improve on their line of apps by making sequels, or in the case of Bubble Witch, a threequel. A classic match-3 game that goes a little more in-depth than just being a surface-level minigame, Bubble Witch 3 Saga gives you characters, levels and objectives.

It might not go as deep as Gardenscapes does in terms of secondary objectives, storylines and narratives, but Bubble Witch 3 Saga is clearly a well-developed game. We got a perfect 5/5 score out of both our testers for graphics, loading time and app stability/reliability. The gameplay, however, didn’t captivate Bill. He only played 2 rounds before putting it down for possibly the last time, which is an interesting difference from Julie, who plays Bubble Witch 3 every day!

This match-3 game didn’t mix things up enough to make it feel any different from the other games we tested. The gameplay is smooth and feels stable, but even through its detailed graphics, storyline and cute characters, the gameplay itself is stale. Even with all of the fancy, unique details, it’s still a game we’ve played before.

All of this week’s games were match-3 games, whether you’re shootin’ bubbles or slidin’ desserts. What sets them apart is the way they’re presented, the narrative and the depth. Some are just match-3 games, whereas others give you objectives to unlock by playing the match-3 game. As important as we all know it is to create a stable, reliable app, this week’s roundup reminds us the importance of adding depth to your game, even if it’s as simple as popping bubbles or exploding macaroons. Not every gamer needs to dig deeper into a game for them to enjoy it, which also reminds us of the importance of making your app as stable as possible, for smooth and continuous gameplay.

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