Pac-Match Party is an excellent free web game. You can play it HERE.

Pac-Match Party

The web version.

It’s another match-three game, but adds lots of nice twists, such as matching presents to get power-ups, making lines of ghosts next to Pac-Man so he can eat them for bonus points, having to make matches on coloured tiles to complete levels and having parts of the level inaccessible.

It’s too easy, but apart from that, it’s probably the best evolution of the match-three concept that I’ve played in ages.

So when the iPhone version was released I plunked my £1.19 down without a second thought. Which may have been a mistake, as the iPhone version loses a lot of what made the web version special.

Pac-Match Party

The iPhone version.

There’s a much smaller playing area, no Pac-Mans (Pac-Men?) on the field, no parts cordoned off and different power-ups, to name the changes that spring immediately to mind. Much of this will be a result of the platform, of course. In fact, there’s a good chance that all the changes are a consequence of having a smaller playing field. It’s hard to block sections off when there’s not much there to begin with, after all.

Initially, it was a huge, almost crushing disappointment. It’s not the same game at all. As I’ve played it more, however, I’ve started to like it, at least a little. There’s bonus point-scoring items to tap, which you don’t see in the web version, and the new Pac-Man power-up seems to have great scoring potential. There are also achievements to gain, though there’s only a local leaderboard. Which is a bad thing.

Talking of bad things, you can’t move tiles (or even tap bonus items) until everything’s settled down, unlike the web version. Oh, and the short between-level cutscenes are in landscape mode even though the game’s in portrait mode, which is just bizarre. It’s also just as easy as the web version – I’m on level fifteen now and haven’t broken a sweat.

It’s confusing, really. If the web version didn’t exist I’d probably like the iPhone version more. (Except, of course, that I’d probably have ignored it.) It’s not a bad game, it’s merely a decent example of a crowded genre, when the web version promises much more.