Rainbow Rush review

Rainbow Rush is a new Facebook-based gem-matching puzzle game from SGN. The game showed up as the No. 17 fastest-growing Facebook title by MAU earlier this week.

Rainbow Rush is another in the increasingly long line of Diamond Dash clones that appear to be fashionable on Facebook right now. Basic gameplay, as ever, involves clicking on contiguous groups of like-colored gems to destroy them in an attempt to score as many points as possible. In Rainbow Rush, players are tasked with scoring sufficient points to fill a bar at the top of the screen and earn up to three stars per level. Filling the bar causes a “rainbow rush,” where the board turns into several large blocks of color, making it temporarily very easy to score large numbers of points. Quickly matching large numbers of gems in succession causes “frenzy” bonuses, and powerups may be purchased before each level begins to make the player’s life easier.

Rainbow Rush’s few deviations from the established Diamond Dash formula are few and far between, but one slight difference comes in the fact that levels do not always unfold on square play areas. Unlike Diamond Dash, which is a “blitz” puzzler that always takes place on the same shape playfield, Rainbow Rush is level-based, with players having to earn at least one star to unlock the next level. Each level has its own distinctive size and shape, though in practice this doesn’t have a huge impact on the gameplay — certainly not as noticeable as it does when a Bejeweled-style match-3 puzzler takes the same approach.

The game monetizes in two main ways: its energy system and sales of soft currency, the latter of which is used to activate powerups before each level. There is no leveling system to unlock these powerups — all are available from the outset. There is also an astonishing optional $99 fee to unlock the bonus stage of the game, which seems somewhat excessive — though if SGN is able to convince just a few people to pay that, it could prove a lucrative income stream.

The energy system feels distinctly ungenerous compared to some similar puzzlers which use a “lives” system instead. In Rainbow Rush, challenging a level costs an energy point regardless of whether or not the player is successful, meaning a session will eventually be throttled regardless of how skilful the player has been. This feels like an unnecessarily artificial way to limit progress, and will likely put some players off returning to the game after their initial energy allocation has been expended. A “lives” system is much more fair to players while still allowing for monetization of play sessions — it rewards skill, but eventually most players will hit a level they find it difficult to progress past and run out of lives. In this circumstance, players will feel like it’s “their fault” and thus be more willing to feed additional virtual quarters into the game to proceed.

Rainbow Rush is eminently unremarkable all around. It features gameplay we’ve seen many times before; a superfluous, unnecessary story; and forgettable, predictable character designs — the female lead character is pretty much interchangeable with those from any of SGN’s other Facebook puzzle games, for example. Since the public clearly has an appetite for this sort of game right now, it will probably do quite well in the short term — helped by the fact that it’s not actually an especially bad game as such, just a completely unoriginal one — but looking at the big picture it adds very little to social gaming as a whole.

Rainbow Rush currently has 350,000 monthly active users and 70,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.

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Diamond Dash Redux… again.