NomNom Combo provides new take on “Match 3” gameplay

NomNom Combo is a new puzzle game for iPhone from Vancouver-based studio East Side Games. It’ll be initially launching on the Canadian App Store. with a worldwide launch later in the quarter. The game is something of an experiment for the developer, which has previously focused on Web-based and social network games such as its previous titles Pot Farm and Zombinis. With NomNom Combo, the team is keen to see how their audience responds to what studio cofounder Josh Nilson describes as “addictive, fun, play through and miss your bus stop” mobile titles.

NomNom Combo is a puzzle game based on a Triple Town-like mechanic of matching three like objects together to “promote” them to a higher-value object. Rather than being a lazy clone of Triple Town, however, NomNom Combo adds a number of additional game systems for additional depth and variety that thoroughly distinguishes it from Spry Fox’s title.

On the game board, which, like Triple Town, is a six-by-six grid with one “holding area” space, players are able to place both “prey” and “predator” creatures. Matching three of the same-colored prey or predator together promotes them to the next level — bugs become mice, frogs become snakes, for example. Reaching a new level of creature for the first time in a game rewards the player with additional moves, allowing their game to last longer, so it is in players’ interests to promote their creatures as highly as possible for both higher scores and longer games. The game is primarily a single player score attack puzzle game, though it does carry social features in the form of Game Center achievement and leaderboard support.

The twist on the base Triple Town formula comes in the interactions between predator and prey pieces. If a prey piece is placed next to a like-colored predator, it will run in the opposite direction until it hits an obstacle — either the board boundary or another piece. If it has nowhere to run, the predator will eat the prey, rewarding the player with coins and removing the prey piece from the board. The higher level the prey and predator when eaten, the more coins the player is rewarded with. These coins can be spent on acquiring specific pieces to place on the board, purchasing “wild card” pieces or purchasing additional moves when the game is over. In the latter case, the more times the player chooses to extend the game with coins, the more it costs.

The game monetizes through in-app purchases of these coins. Players are able to acquire bundles of coins in denominations between $.99 and $24.99 and are also able to earn free coins via an in-app offer wall. These offers include deals with Tapjoy, Kerching Mobile Casino, Netflix, Big Fish Games and numerous others, and cover both free advertising deals and rewards for signing up to paid services. There is no obligation for the player to purchase coins, however, since the game provides ample facility to earn them through normal gameplay.

NomNom Combo proves that it’s possible to take an existing, established game concept and evolve it to produce a unique experience without having to resort to outright cloning. It’s a simple, fun and addictive game that is likely to enjoy some success with the puzzle-loving portion of the iOS market.

Once the game launches later this quarter, be sure to follow its progress through the App Store charts using AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.