Review: Fortune Stones – Match-3 for a new Decade

Fortune Stones is new start-up Playteau, Inc.’s first offering in the world of social games. It uses the match-3 game mechanic made popular by PopCap games’ Bejeweled; swap two pieces by clicking or dragging to make a match of three icons or more in a line. Many games use this mechanic, some with great success, some slipping by with hardly a ripple, and Playteau seems to have a star on their hands. Launched on March 10th, 2011, Fortune Stones has climbed steadily to over 40,000 daily average users and 250,000 monthly average users as of today, according to AppData, our tracking service for top apps.

The twist that Playteau brings to Fortune Stones is that players have to clear the board. The tiles have a white background and when each tile is used, it turns black, but that is merely the beginning. There are two game modes, Frenzy and Strategy. Frenzy is a two-minute timed game on the standard 8 x 8 square board. Once you clear the first board, a new one presents itself with the added challenge of locked tiles. These tiles have to be cleared twice; once to unlock them before they can be moved and second, to clear them. Strategy is a puzzle game with differently shaped game boards, complete with level progression, and level sets. There are two variations of Strategy mode, timed and leisure. The goal is still to clear the board by transforming all the tiles from white to black, but completion of each game board unlocks another, and completion of a level set unlocks the next.

Fortune Stones has a complement of boosts, power ups and customization to enhance the player experience. As players play the game, they acquire pieces of tile sets. Some may be cosmetic, others provide a boost when used, such as adding time to the timer, multipliers or power ups. The beauty of the customization is twofold: they allow players to customize their game experience, and they are a monetization point for Playteau. Further, each time a player changes a tile set, there’s a small learning curve as they get used to the different icons, slowing down their progression just a little.

Players get a certain number of items for free, like two different sets of tiles, a number of background wall papers, two level sets for the strategy game and the first three levels of new level sets introduced. The rest have to be bought or earned, so players can either spend real cash or play the game to earn the game’s currency, P coins. Even puzzle completion can be purchased if players get stuck on a board in the Strategy game and want to unlock the next board.

Players can buy everything in the game using P coins. Logging in yields 50 coins and logging in consecutively provides better rewards each day up to the fifth day before it all begins again. Game scores translate to P coins and on the social aspect of the game, each friend up to the 10th, for example, yield a bonus of 10 P coins a day. Having six friends unlocks a power up in the Strategy game, the finisher if bought and used, flips the last five tiles on a puzzle board. The game also runs weekly tournaments and a pop-up window shows players each week, how they fare against their friends when they log into the game.

Fortune Stones is has some very attractive features. The graphics are brilliant, the game play designed to be faster and more dynamic, and the game board customizable. The social features of badges, achievements and sharing are there as are the competitive features of tournaments, trophies and leader boards, and a feature to allow players to gift power ups to their friends are in the works. After every game played, a “fortune” and lucky numbers in the best of fortune cookies tradition is displayed with the ability to share it, with the scores.

The gameplay and features in Fortune Stones are not new, but Playteau has managed to offer them in a compelling and attractive package with planned roll-outs that will continue holding the interest and attention of match-3 aficionados. Once their marketing plan launches, we can expect to see the DAU and MAU numbers for Fortune Stones continue to climb.