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Swap This! (Switch) artwork

Swap This! (Switch) review

"Swap This! does just enough to distinguish itself from the crowd, and its low price point makes it an easy buy."

Swap This! is a beach-themed matching game from Two Tribes, an indie outfit based in the Netherlands that produced a number of small puzzle and action games since it was founded in 2000. The studio is perhaps most famous for its Toki Tori franchise. Though the team announced in early 2016 that its last original project would be RIVE, it has continued porting past projects to modern platforms where they might find a new audience.

Originally developed as a mobile game for Apple devices, Swap This! is no longer available for sale in that ecosystem. But you can find it on Switch right now, and with a mobile-sized standard price of only $1.19. As the message indicates when you fire up the game, it's best controlled using the Switch touchscreen--even though you can use a JoyCon if you prefer--and that makes it an ideal match for Nintendo's hybrid console.

Swap This! (Switch) image

There are four modes in Swap This! and they're reasonably creative. Minute Match is the first option, where you try to score as many points as you can within a 60-second period. Wave Mode lets you keep playing indefinitely, as long as you're making enough skillful matches to meet score requirements on successive rounds. Fish Fight is a little different. There is a tank along the left side of the screen, with a large fish rising slowly toward the top. You push it back down by making matches, and survive as long as you can without the fish reaching and staying at the top for long. Finally, there is the Puzzles mode, where you have all the time you need to perform a series of moves that solves carefully designed puzzles. You advance through three difficulty levels: Easy, Medium and Hard. There are 45 puzzles in all, and they will likely keep you busy for a couple of hours or so.

Swap This! is a matching game, as noted, but it's not the standard Candy Crush knockoff you might expect. You don't just swap adjacent pieces to create matches of three. Instead, you have to line up four in a row, but you can swap pieces from anywhere on the board. Combos are formed by making swaps that match more than one consecutive color, and you can keep chains going (if you have sufficiently nimble fingers and quick reflexes) by moving pieces around from elsewhere on the board to add them to the mix before the pieces you already have matched crack and disappear.

Swap This! (Switch) image

Getting used to the new rules of play may take awhile, especially if you've been playing match-3 games for years. A lot of the strategies that serve you well there don't apply and neither do the standard restrictions. For instance, you don't need to focus on clearing away lower pieces before working your way to the most recent to drop, because now you can pull from anywhere without consequence. Pieces don't drop once the ones below them are cleared; new ones simply materialize over the course of a few seconds. The whole affair is a bit more frantic than you might be used to, because the timer is merciless.

The various puzzles are sometimes quite devious. A few of them are simple, as they teach you to use new power-ups like a block that creates a flash and obliterates a few pieces in any direction, or an orb that knocks out color chains on all sides. But as soon as you learn to use those new abilities, you'll have puzzles that put your skill to the test to make sure you really understand the concept and can make the most of each piece. Really, Puzzles mode feels like a training class, so you can play the main game more efficiently.

Swap This! (Switch) image

That main mode has limited appeal, though, because it doesn't do much to evolve along the way. The lasting appeal comes from seeing where you rank compared to other players around the world, and then battling to improve your score so you can climb the ladder. The game does a good job of letting you know who you pass along the way, and who your next target on the leaderboards should be, but there aren't a lot of filters that might allow you to--for instance--compare your performance to whatever your friends manage to accomplish.

Swap This! isn't likely going to win any awards for originality or ambition, or for graphics and sound or any other thing, but it's a competently designed game that should keep puzzle fans busy for a few enjoyable hours if they explore all of the offered content. It can be difficult to stand out in the crowded puzzle landscape nowadays, and Two Tribes has managed to do so here. The price tag is also very reasonable, since the game is sufficiently affordable that you probably can snag it for some gold points if you've already purchased a few digital games on your Switch. If you like matching puzzle games much at all, that's not a bad way to go.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 02, 2018)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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