The best free match games for Android
Our favorite free Android games where you swap gems and match tiles, aiming for a high score.
Sprint RPG in stills looks an awful lot like a retro take on a FPS - or at least a first-person hack and slash. In reality, it’s much closer in nature to a match puzzler.
The aim is to reach an exit, offing monsters and grabbing bling along the way, all without getting horribly killed yourself. Helpfully, all this happens against the clock, too.
However, on encountering a terrifying gigantic spider or a goofy skeleton zombie, you can’t just mash at the screen to give it a kicking - each enemy requires you execute a precise sequence to defeat it.
It’s interesting stuff, mashing up several genres in an effective way that feels particularly appropriate on the small screen, from the neatly realized retro visuals to the smartly conceived thumbable controls.
I Love Hue Too
I Love Hue Too is a color-matching game about harmony and geometry. It begins as a series of colorful shapes with a gradient painted across them. Next, some tiles vanish and reappear in random locations. Your task is to recreate the original layout by dragging and swapping tiles.
That probably doesn’t sound very exciting, but that’s not what I Love Hue Too’s going for. This isn’t some kind of manic gem-swapper, with you playing against the clock. Instead, this is a meditative and almost zen-like free Android game that you can relax to.
That said, if you fancy a challenge, each level does have a minimum moves target to aim for; and as you work through the hundreds of levels, patterns become increasingly complex, challenging you to spot the smallest differences between similar colors.
Tetris is one of the most famous games of all, and you probably know the drill. Blocks fall, and you position them to make complete lines, which disappear. Should your pile of blocks reach the top of the well, it’s game over.
Designed on PC, and later exploding into the mainstream on the original Game Boy, Tetris has had a tough time on slippy touchscreens. But this version controls well, even at relatively high speeds.
This free Android game is also devoid of cruft. There’s one IAP to remove the ads, but multiple skins are available immediately, rather than you grinding for in-game currency. It’s possible that fans of EA’s discontinued Tetris may gripe about the simple nature of this new version, but we prefer to think it echoes the elegance of the Game Boy favorite.
The Ninja in the Dark
The Ninja in the Dark is at its core not far removed from Fruit Ninja. You’re tasked with quickly slicing up a bunch of stuff (in this case, evil critters) on the screen, while avoiding getting all stabby with hero-obliterating bombs. Only in this game, you do this in the dark.
It’s something of a memory test, then. You get a few seconds to study the screen layout; then your finger becomes a virtual sword, zipping about and hopefully not scything through anything deadly.
The core gameplay is, perhaps inevitably, a little repetitive. But The Ninja in the Dark is fun in short sessions. Stick around for the long term and you’ll end up battling increasingly ferocious monsters, along with unlocking new worlds and power-ups.
Six Match is a new take on match games. Instead of swapping gems, you switch coins by having the suitably named Mr Swap-With-Coins barge past them. The twist: a number on the cuboid hero’s head denotes how many moves he has left before he freezes to the spot – six at most before he must make the next match.
This twist makes for a very different match experience – one that’s far more strategic than swiping at the screen like a maniac. You can’t afford to waste moves – particularly when Six Match introduces new concepts to help and hinder. These include bombs, coin-shifting cages that assist and frustrate in equal measure, deadly skulls, and poker-style card hands that boost your score.
The combination of factors proves clever and engaging, and offers scope for long-term play as you work out strategies to improve your score.
Push & Pop
Push & Pop is a sliding tiles puzzler, with mechanics not a million miles away from Threes! (or low-rent knock-off 2048), but this is no mere clone. Instead, it builds on the basics of shifting tiles or blocks around a limited space by also borrowing ideas from Sokoban and Pac-Man, before stripping everything right back again.
Play occurs on a five-by-five grid, around which you slide a cuboid. On every move, a new block appears somewhere on the grid. Arrange five into a solid line by pushing them and they disappear, freeing up space, and leaving behind gems the blocky hero can collect by eating or shoving blocks through them. Further complications are added when immovable blocks appear. Your game’s over when you become stuck.
With its neon visuals and ethereal soundtrack, Push & Pop takes simple foundations and runs with them, fashioning an intriguing, engaging, and surprisingly novel title.
Laps – Fuse
Laps – Fuse is a match-three game based around numbered discs. If three or more of the same meet, they fuse into a new disc with twice the face value. The tiny snag: you’ve limited slots to hurl discs into. The other tiny snag: the discs you hurl zoom about the edge of a circle. The other other tiny snag: you’ve only 20 laps to secure your high-score – and thereby Laps bragging rights.
This isn’t a thoughtful Threes-style outing, then – more an arcade puzzler on fast-forward. You at every moment you must plan ahead, trying to set up matches and chain reactions that fling your circling disc back a little way, buying you a few seconds of extra time.
It’s a tense, clever take on what’s become a tired genre. And should you master the main mode, you can unlock ‘endless’, ‘furious’ (faster), and ‘extreme’ (fewer slots – presumably for masochists).
Wilful Kitty is a sliding tile puzzle game on a four-by-four grid. But before you yawn and assume it’s another 2048 knock-off (which itself was a Threes! knock-off), guess again. Because this game features cats. And all the things that cats really like.
The twist here is a little kitty moves about the grid as you swipe, and objects that enter the grid are combined into consumables and toys. For example, milk and a bowl becomes a kitty drink, and a plate and some fish makes a hearty lunch.
This shift in mechanics shakes up everything you knew about this kind of game – as does you being able to charge up a ‘satisfaction bar’ that when full unleashes a ‘Hyper Kitty Dash’, clearing a chunk of the playfield in double-quick time.
It’s entertaining serving the tiny cat’s every need – and surprisingly challenging, too. Because it turns out this Wilful Kitty has bite.
With its four-by-four grid and penchant for rapidly restricting the playfield, Topsoil comes across a bit like a horticultural Threes! There’s no sliding cards about, though – instead, you’re presented with a string of things to plant, and prod open spaces to plonk them down.
After three, you get a chance to harvest – and this is where things become more complicated. You get more points for harvesting many plants at once, which requires them to be on adjacent squares. But on harvesting anything, the soil beneath is turned over. Soil cycles between blue, yellow, and green, and groups of plants cannot cross different soil colors.
The net result is a clever game where you must plan ahead, and where you keep digging for strategies to last longer and discover new plants to grow and harvest.
There are a lot of Android puzzle games that involve you sliding blocks about, but Imago is one of the best, even giving Threes! a run for its money.
You drag numbered tiles around a grid, merging those of the same colour and shape. On doing so, their numbers combine, but when merged groups reach a certain size, they split into smaller tiles, each retaining the score of the larger piece. Successful games require careful forward planning, with only a few moves it can be possible to ramp up scores dramatically, into the millions or even billions!
The game's relative complexity is countered by a smart modes system that gradually introduces you to Imago's intricacies. There's also a Daily Flight mode that provides a regular influx of new challenges, for when the standard modes begin to pall. On Android, we noticed a few minor visual glitches here and there, but otherwise this is a must-download puzzle game that's among the best on the platform.
In Threes! Free, you slide numbered cards around a tiny grid, merging pairs to increase their values and make room for new cards. Strategy comes from the cards all moving simultaneously, along with you needing to keep space free to make subsequent merges, forcing you to think ahead.
On launch, it was a rare example of a new and furiously compulsive puzzle-game mechanic. Within days, it was mercilessly ripped off, free clones flooding Google Play.
Now, though, you can get authentic Threes! action entirely for free, and discover why it's 2048 times better than every freebie 2048 game (personality; attention to detail; music; small elements of game design that make a big difference).
You get 12 free games to start. Add groups of three more by watching a video ad. And you can always upgrade to the paid version if you get suitably hooked.
There are loads of freebie Bejeweled knock-offs on Google Play, and so if you fancy a bit of gem-swapping, you may as well download the original. For reasons beyond us, Android owners don't get the multitude of modes available on some other platforms, but there's the original match-three 'classic', the can't-lose 'zen', and the superb 'diamond mine'.
In the last of those, matches smash a hole into the ground. You're playing against the clock, and over time uncover harder rock that needs special moves to obliterate. It's a frenetic, intense experience considering this is a match-three title, although high-score chasers might cast a suspicious eye over the offer to extend the time limit by watching an advert.
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