The best Android apps are downloaded for many reasons, for their innovative design or even something simple like a welcoming community. But in many cases, popular Android apps gain popularity simply for building upon a winning formula, refining simple gameplay loops designed for killing time. Match-3 games are a great example, the simple shape-matching gameplay loop seen in Bejewelled, Candy Crush Saga, etc. This loop is tailor-made for the best Android phones, offering simple touch-centric mechanics that are playable on a small screen, perfect for commuting. This is why we dug up some of the best choices on the Play Store for you to peruse in today’s roundup of the best match-3 games available in 2022.
Mundus – match 3 puzzle games
Given the set formula of match-3 games, developers often focus on additional gameplay aspects to create a lasting impression, leaving the core gameplay as is. Case and point, Mundus, a match-3 game with a plot about shamanism and traveling to different universes. This concept frames the various backdrops surrounding the game’s grids, showing vibrantly colored scenes accompanied by mysterious ethereal music. The game manages to pull off a bright, cartoonish aesthetic without coming over as garish or overbearing. Add to that perfectly enjoyable match-3 gameplay, and the whole thing comes out on top as an excellent experience.
Pokémon Shuffle Mobile
As the name implies, Pokémon Shuffle is a match-3 mobile game themed around the iconic franchise. You are required to match tiles in pursuit of catching Pokémon, with every move you have remaining at the end increasing the odds of capture success. These Pokémon can be applied to your character as passive buffs to increase your scores. The games themselves provide a satisfying challenge without becoming annoying, and the aforementioned mechanics are explained well so that anyone can jump in. Pokémon shuffle adapts the Pokémon experience to match-3 gameplay well.
Puzzle Quest 3 – Match 3 RPG
Something more involved than your generic match-3 game, Puzzle Quest 3 recreates a western turn-based RPG and pairs it with match-3 gameplay. You face off against an opponent by matching tiles within a time limit, the colors of specific tiles representing different actions to take during combat. While this sounds a bit farfetched, in practice, it works quite well. Limited moves are usually the source of tension in these games, and so adding a time limit feels like an evolution of that concept. The aesthetics just add to this, working hard to recreate a genuine RPG experience with clean and efficient art design. If you’re already a fan of the best Final Fantasy games on Android, Puzzle Quest 3 is a must.
Zombies & Puzzles: RPG Match 3
On a similar note, Zombies and Puzzles, a match-3 game attempting to recreate a party-based RPG themed around zombie survival. The app doesn’t hold back on its visuals; the colors are bleak and miserable, clashing somewhat with the bright primary-colored tiles that govern the combat. You take control of several survivors and battle the undead by furiously matching colors at them, occasionally unleashing unique special attacks to devastate the enemy ranks. While it’s fairly simple, Zombies and Puzzles is captivating enough with its visual design to keep you interested. Again, a good pick for any Final Fantasy fans.
Ironic that Pokémon is already mentioned above; Zookeeper Battle is a match-3 title that evokes a genuine Pokémon experience. Visually, the game is very arcade-inspired, with a selection of pixel art animals that fight each other through the medium of sliding tiles. In many ways, this feels like the Pokémon concept in its basest form, getting animals to fight on our behalf. Your score determines a fight’s outcome, opponents have a certain amount of health, and if your score exceeds that number, you win. While its presentation can be a bit confusing, the app is committed to its concept and doesn’t hold up too much of a pretense about this being a match-3 game, leaning into the genre with gusto.
Gunspell 2 – Puzzle RPG
Gunspell 2 continues the trend of match-3 games adding turn-based RPG content to extend the gameplay, but with an artful and detailed visual design that distinguishes it amongst the crowd. This game is the first to utilize hexagonal tiles, which enables diagonal matching, a not insignificant difference for skilled players. Special props should be given to the avatar designs, which are all beautifully detailed and a joy to look at while playing. As expected, you match tiles with colors that correspond with certain attacks until you win. Additional power-ups and special tiles give the gameplay added complexity, as you have to master them in order to excel. Simple and to the point; definitely worth a try.
MARVEL Puzzle Quest: Hero RPG
The MCU offering a match-3 game based around the franchise seems perfect, given its huge roster of heroes and storylines. Marvel Puzzle Quest takes full advantage of this, letting you recruit dozens of characters, including different incarnations of the same character from the Marvel universe. The inclusion of high-profile characters doesn’t change the formula much; however, you still match tiles to attack and occasionally use a character-specific super move to deal extra damage. The game’s appeal obviously hinges on your partiality to the MCU itself, grinding to unlock your favorite characters being the primary motivation besides dominating a leaderboard. But if you are a fan, this one has a decent presentation and represents the genre well. Have at it.
Puzzle & Dragons
Rounding off with one last RPG-based match-3, Puzzle & Dragons offers a stellar group turn-based combat experience based around familiar match-3 gameplay. One standout feature of this title is the ability to place any tile anywhere on the board (I know, crazy). The character designs look amazing, with unlockable party members offering stylized and lovingly crafted 2D sprites. The difficulty curve is smooth and reasonable, with its “easy to learn, hard to master” nature being stated on the store page. Overlooking one or two crashing issues, we have a versatile game with just enough content to keep players coming back.
Sliding tile puzzles, only better
This concludes our match-3 game roundup, for now, at least. Which game is your favorite? Have a suggestion? We are always looking for additional that might have been missed. Match-3 games are always popping up, so there’s never been a better time to start sliding blocks like there’s no tomorrow. And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more involved, there are plenty of great Android arcade games, and the larger screens on these awesome Android tablets will be right up your street to ensure you can enjoy every pixel. See you in the next update!