hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Arkedo Series - 02 SWAP!

6:00 PM on 11.14.2009 // Joseph Leray

A few weeks ago, indie game developer Arkedo sent me an e-mail titled "An Easy Game from Arkedo to Dtoid, with Love": "Do you think it would be possible to have your mad skillz colleague try and beat Level 1 AND 2 of our game? That would be awesome. We put some bright and friendly colours, so he does not get scared too quickly. And a cat."

I'm not too sure, but I think Anthony's getting trolled.

In any case, I rose to the challenge and did just that—I beat levels 1 and 2 of Arkedo Series - 02 SWAP! without dying. Of course, I eventually beat the whole thing, but it took a lot more tries and something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike strategy.

In case you've forgotten (or never got the memo to begin with), Arkedo is trying to make one indie game per month, ostensibly designed around one simple game mechanic. Last month they gave us a platformer titled JUMP!. This month, we're presented with SWAP!, a "dual-stick action puzzle," so they say.

Arkedo Series 02 - SWAP! (Xbox Live Indie Games)
Developed by: Arkedo
Published by: Arkedo
Released on: October 24, 2009
MSRP: 240 Microsoft points

Lending truth to the phrase "drunk as a lord," and perhaps as an homage to Katamari Damacy, the premise of SWAP! is simple: King Kat got raging drunk last night and, hungover, must find his way back to his castle. Oddly enough, crossing the five different regions of his castle involves Panel de Pon-inspired, match-four-colored-blocks puzzling.

As rows and rows of colored blocks fill the screen, players re-arrange pieces in order to align four of them in horizontal rows or vertical columns. The left stick moves the cursor, and the right switches blocks around. If you score enough points before the screen fills up with blocks, King Kat moves one step closer to his Kastle. If not, game over.

If that sounds a little simplistic, that's because it is. There's some kink—coins and treasure boxes boost your points, lightning bolts can clear the entire screen, and some items can temporarily stop the blocks' upward progress—but it's largely a variation on the same type of match-four puzzling gamers have been doing for decades. Arkedo tried to gussy the game up with extra modes—"Arcade," a mad dash to beat your best score; and "Challenge," a set of, um, challenges: i.e. clear seven blocks at once, or use four coins in one move—but they don't do much to overcome the game's critical flaw.

As you progress through story mode, you'll get little tutorial pop-ups that explain how to play the game, how to set up combos, and how to score the most bonus points. Since you have to score a certain amount of points before King Kat can get through the level, setting up bonuses and score multipliers seems like a great idea. The Challenge mode reinforces this, as almost all of them require you set up a chain reaction of combos and bonuses, skills that you could ostensibly take back into Arcade mode to score big points. Given that SWAP! will let you drag pieces from one end of the board to another with no penalty, setting up combos is relatively straightforward, assuming you can think that far ahead.

However, setting up these combos (the way the game suggests you should) takes a lot of time, and time is something you don't have a lot of in SWAP!. The board fills up fast; too fast for combo-ing to be a viable strategy. It seems like it would be a good way to introduce some strategy into the game: do I sacrifice my valuable time to score big points and risk losing, or do I play it safe? Unfortunately, playing it safe seems to be the only way to play, as I never managed to beat a level relying solely on smart tactics and combos, the way Arkedo wanted me to. What's left is more a war of attrition than anything else. The end result? In a game where each mode seems to prioritize creative play, the only viable strategy is trying to create simple, horizontal rows fast enough to keep your head above the water.

What I take to be a fundamental design flaw aside, SWAP! definitely has its moments of fun. When things start heating up (i.e. when the speed hits about 7), fighting to keep the screen from filling up can be thrilling—I actually cheered when I survived the last level. My brother and girlfriend were over at the time and between them trying to coach me to victory and my own stress, we probably made a lot more noise than most puzzle games warrant. It's just unfortunate that most of the enjoyment that can be derived from SWAP! comes from mere survival, instead of the ability to actually pull off the combos and maneuvers that Arkedo wishes you could.

I've come to the point where I've reached a dilemma. SWAP! is a solid, match-four puzzler: the controls are surprisingly tight, the presentation is cute, and the game executes everything it wants to do pretty well, some design flaws notwithstanding. On the other hand, it's just match-four puzzling at the end of the day, right? It's kind of hard to be engaged by SWAP! when I've been matching colored bricks for almost a decade, y'know?

Ultimately, I think I'd rather be generous: SWAP! might a little shallow and misguided, but it's a fun little game, and you weren't going to spend those 240 points on anything else, anyway. For what it's worth, I'll be going back to finish the challenges as soon as I get a chance.

If anything, SWAP! gives me hope that, eventually, Arkedo will get the hang of developing one indie game per month. They haven't mentioned how long they're going to do this, but I'm confident that, eventually, they'll have something truly interesting to offer (not to mention that Big Bang Mini was kind of awesome).

Score: 6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)

Joseph Leray, Former Features Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Joseph Leray is a long-time features contributor, reviewer, and (self-styled) editor-at-large for Destructoid. He lives in Nashville with a menagerie of pets and a Final Fantasy IX obsession. more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Work noooooooooooooooooo D:
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I had such a awkward time playing Catherine because it shared the same name as my mother....
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Broforce is coming out of early access on the 15th. I had no Idea it was an early access game.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
I have now played all 3 Witcher games. My verdict: Witcher 1 - alright, aged badly, lots of sex. Witcher 2 - good, very short, not much sex at all. Witcher 3 - Excellent in every way.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I really wish MGO had been implemented with free-roam gameplay PMC (clan) setup instead of the standard matchmaking. Imagine roaming bands of PMC's opposing each other on the battlefield. How sexy would that be?
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Playing Shantae & The Pirates Curse, must say I'm loving it for the most part, barring the odd WHERE AM I D: moment
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Added a humble code to my steam account when I already had the game. Purely because the soundtrack was attached. Now I see it on 2 friends wishlists. They must never know.
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Okay so what 2, 3, 4 years later I bothered to finish. Now to write up that blog on why FFXIV lost my love by never challenging me and see if it's actually interesting...
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
What's up with taking your phone or a magazine to the toilet? Y'all need more fibre in your diet, why should a toilet visit take more than 2 minutes? What are you people doing with your asses.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Finished Momohime/Jinkuro's story in Muramasa last night. I always liked that ending. I didn't know there were more endings, though. On to Kisuke's story!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
It feels like each day I get up, do the rounds of my bookmarks, and am immediately brought down by kneejerk hate: new stuff, old stuff, last nights stuff, 2moros stuff, a game, a film, TV. Critical thinking is fine, but dang, pure cynicism's winning :(
Vuster avatarVuster
Rpg Maker MV is coming soon O: I mean I am overjoyed but... I JUST GOT USE TO VX ACE!! Either way, I intend to do a form of quick summery of the features on release o:
Flegma avatarFlegma
Nintendo's(?) weekly SMM level picks: [url][/url] - scroll down a bit for the list. I wish I didn't need to type in the level ID myself, though.
Shinta avatarShinta
Metal Gear Online, Day 2. The maps in this game are amazing. Try out all 3 classes, because they're all pretty different. Really getting the hang of the game now.
Jay Escobar avatarJay Escobar
Video game voice actors are threatening to go on strike if EA, Activision, Disney, WB, and others refuse to pay them the necessary bonuses (
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I love how Final Fantasy Record Keeper is making a big deal about being able to unlock FF XII's Vaan. I do get to unlock Ashe though, so that's cool.
gajknight avatargajknight
Just put in my pre-order for Dragon Quest Heroes: The Thing in The Thing with The Thing. Good times, hope it doesn't disappoint! Like I do. With everyone.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
You know you've played a good JRPG when the ending makes you sad...
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Next year, we get a new Fire Emblem game, a sequel to SMT IV, Persona 5 and people are STILL getting their knickers in a bunch about SMTxFE? I can summon the bisexual interdimensional stalker dark mage, Tharja, in that game. I am sold on all of this.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
DMC4:SE, I've had fun playing this game again. Surprised I remembered so much of it though, sucks we'll probably never see Nero and his badass Devil Buster again. I still love that shit.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -