If you're into casual puzzle games, chances are you've come across one or two match-3 games throughout your journey. Or maybe a few dozen. The fact is, the sheer number of match-3 titles available makes it hard to separate the good from the bad. But we're here to help. What follows is a list of some of the best that the genre has to offer, from fresh and inventive games to ones that simply take a good thing and make it better. If you're looking to waste a whole lot of time, these games will be more than happy to help.
The first Puzzle Quest was something of a revelation when it first launched back in 2007. It managed to merge the same match-3 puzzle gameplay found in games like Bejewleled with an epic, sword and sorcery role playing game. It sounded strange, but it worked. Its sequel isn't as evolutionary, but it manages to fix many of the first game's issues to create a much better overall experience.
Match-3 games are, essentially, all the same. You can wrap it up like an RPG as in Puzzle Quest or throw in a virtual fish tank like in Fishdom, but the core gameplay is still the same. Vizati changes this notion. With a new game mechanic that has you moving the grid instead of the pieces, it feels wholly unique. It may be a bit on the difficult side, but with a terrific atmosphere and fresh new gameplay it's perfect for puzzle fans.
At this point you'd be forgiven for thinking that you've seen all that the match-3 genre has to offer. From Bejeweled to Turba to Puzzle Quest, it's arguably the most crowded genre in all puzzle gaming. Yet, in spite of this, Arcen Games' Tidalis manages to offer up a fresh twist on the concept, creating an addictive experience that's equal parts challenging and relaxing. And it even has a story.
Match-three games are about the most ubiquitous type of puzzle game out there, so it's tough for a developer to do something new and creative with the genre. But the team at Binary Takeover has managed to do just that with Turba. Though its not quite as musically focused as you might think, it's still an excellent puzzler that will keep you addicted for quite some time.
5. Fishdom 2
With all of the match-3 puzzle games out there, it can be hard to make a game stand out from the pack. Developer Playrix managed to do this with the first Fishdom with a cleverly implemented aquatic theme, which let players decorate their own virtual aquarium. Fishdom 2 offers more of the same, and while it may not be all that original, it's still one of the best match-3 games around.
With the success of the Facebook version of Bejeweled Blitz, it's a bit of a curious move for PopCap Games to release a $20, downloadable version of what is essentially the same game. The port is a solid and addictive experience, with updated graphics and a few new features. But is it enough to make it worth the $20 price tag?