Like most of Cookapps’ previous titles, Pengle takes an established puzzle game formula — in this case, Bejeweled-style gem-swapping match-3 action — and builds on that with additional mechanics. In the case of Pengle, players will find themselves either having to clear oil-stained gems or matching gems on top of oil-stained spaces in order to clear them. Players have a limited number of moves in which to complete each level, and are given a bonus upon successfully completing the level’s objectives. Once the level is complete, the player receives a rating between one and three stars, and these stars are used to unlock treasure chests that contain keys. Keys are used to unlock new sets of levels, but the player also has the option to either ask their friends to help instead or to spend Facebook Credits for instant access.
The game monetizes in several ways. The player earns soft currency through play, which may be spent on single-use powerups to take into a level, and soft currency may be purchased directly as well as earned. There are also a number of permanent upgrades that can be purchased directly for Facebook Credits; these include permanent increases to the player’s maximum stock of lives or move count per level. It’s also possible to purchase unlimited lives for a single day for the equivalent of $1.50, or permanently for $49.90, which seems a little optimistic.
Social features for the game include a leaderboard for each level and the facility to share achievements and unlocks as they happen. The game remembers the user’s preference as to whether or not they would like to share things by default, however, so players who do not wish to fill their friends’ News Feeds with stories of their exploits can play the game with confidence.
Pengle is a good game, on the whole. While its core mechanics are completely unoriginal, the additional layers added atop them help make this a little more interesting than your average Bejeweled wannabe. As the player progresses through the levels, new mechanics are interested at a good rate to keep things interesting, beginning with new level objectives and continuing with “jellyfish” items that continually swap gem colors, adding an additional layer of required forward thinking and strategy. The game’s monetization never feels like a “pay to win” option, and the whole experience looks and sounds good — though the background music loop quickly becomes annoying and will probably be turned off by most players.
Overall, then, despite being another entry in an increasingly-overcrowded genre, Pengle is a good puzzle game that, if Cookapps’ previous titles are anything to go by, looks set to enjoy a healthy degree of success. It presently occupies the 1,000,000+ MAU tier with a ranking of 149, and the 500,000+ DAU tier with a ranking of 107. You can follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
What initially appears to be yet another Bejeweled wannabe gradually shows some hidden depths as players progress.