If you’d take one part Peggle, evolved it to the mobile format, and added a ton of new elements, then perhaps you would end up with Coin Drop. Although the screenshots don't really communicate it that well, there are a lot of things going on in Coin Drop; more than you might expect.
In fact, as far as mobile games go, Coin Drop might even be better than Peggle in some ways.
Coin Drop (iPhone [reviewed], iPad -- universal app)
Developer: Full Fat Games
Publisher: Full Fat Games
Released: April 19th, 2011
In Coin Drop, you shockingly drop coins in vertical levels with a seemingly simple goal. Every level has four blue “bad pennies” that you need to hit and capture. If you don’t get all four, you can’t pass the level no matter how high your score is.
Getting the four bad pennies is easy enough in most levels, although that’s not what you’ll end up playing Coin Drop for. Each level has a mix of different elements to maximize your score, and what you will keep playing the game for is to get those magical three stars to "complete" a level.
Like in Peggle, there are the pachinko pins that you can hit for points. Hit all of them in a level, and you get a big score bonus. Hit all of them again, and you’ll reach the really big scores. It’s easier said than done though, as the pins sometimes move around the level or can be hard to reach.
Occasionally there are some see-saw structures and moving obstacles that force you to time when to drop a coin, and the more things are moving in a level, the harder it becomes. If you want, you can drop as many as five coins at a time and just hope for the best. The coins will then bounce off each other for some unforeseen and chaotic results.
The bottom of each level is segmented into five slots, one of which is lit up at any time. If you can manage to drop your coin into the lit-up slot, and proceed to do the same for all five slots, you’ll unleash a free instantaneous five-coin drop to rack up some extra points.
Trying to do this quickly becomes the main challenge in Coin Drop as moving obstacles, portals that teleport your coins around, magnets that attract and repel coins, and bouncy platforms all need to be taken into account. Snapping your device upwards makes the coin bounce up a little for some additional "coin-up" action -- just like tilting upwards in a pinball machine -- which can become a lifesaver or a sound strategy.
Later levels feature pink girl coins that you need to "rescue" by smashing some bricks in an Arkanoid fashion, and rescuing all of them yields you another score bonus. It’s when levels start combining the bad pennies, girl coins, portals, bricks, pins, and bouncing obstacles that the separate elements starts to interact in creating a layered puzzle for highscores.
Especially with big score bonuses for lots of different things, you start to approach a level in increasingly complex ways as you keep retrying them for higher scores. But focus too much on the score, and you sometimes forget to grab one of the bad pennies and don't pass the level -- resulting in severe disappointment at how dumb you just were.
It’s quite well designed and although you can easily blast through the levels while getting one or two stars, you’ll keep going back and replaying a level until you finally got all three stars. The stars are counted throughout the game -- with 180 to collect over 60 levels -- and you'll have to get at least 30 stars in every 15-level stage to progress to the next stage. A further fifth stage is "coming soon."
Progression is made even more seamless by the amount of polish and style the game has. For starters, the coins themselves are ridiculously cute and you’re continuously exposed to a super cute splash-screen with a big smiling coin in your face. Getting a final coin stuck in a level will give you a prompt to restart the level rather than shaking your device for minutes on end, hoping to unstuck that one last coin.
The coins can be customized as you unlock new types -- including zombie, country flag, chocolate and other types of coins -- and their faces react to environmental conditions. When a coin touches a girl coin it will get hearts for eyes, when you snap your device up for a higher bounce it will get dizzy, and when it hits a pin or some obstacle its face will react accordingly. It's pretty damn cute.
That’s not to say it’s a game for kids though. Just like some other casual puzzle games it’s just a very sugary game with some really addictive gameplay and puzzle designs thrown in the mix. It is cute, but you shouldn’t feel ashamed for playing it in public.
The only thing that slightly drags the game down is that some of the levels feel a bit uneven compared to others. One time you’ll easily pass a level with 3 stars and very little effort effort. But the next level you’ll be scratching your head, thinking about how to time a coin so it evades an obstacle and bounces off a pin into a highlighted slot at the bottom, grabbing a bad penny along the way.
The magnets in the last stage can be a bit of a pain to get the hang of as well, often leading you to just drop more coins and hope for the best rather than trying to think of a strategy. Small things like this sometimes lead to more trial and error than thoughtful gameplay. However, every stage does introduce new elements to play around with which helps to keep the experience fresh.
Minor nitpicking aside this is simply a fantastic mobile game. It has all the elements that keep you coming back and want to play more, it uses the touch controls in an accessible and intuitive way, and it's wrapped in a very well designed -- if really cute -- package of crisp and clean graphics.
The mix of the art style, the level of polish throughout the game, and the highly addictive gameplay turn Coin Drop into a must-have for players of all ages. It takes some elements from Peggle and adds a ton of new elements into the mix, turning it into a casual orgy of color and sweet highscore lust.
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