Match-3 games have become a staple of the casual game genre over the years, and you'll now find them adapted to countless different themes and seasons. The central mechanic they all share is that the player must find or create sets of similar items, typically three or more, to complete the game's objectives. Older versions of these games are often given away to promote newer versions. Here are some of the most popular free match-3 puzzle games available online.
1. Bejeweled 2
Developed by PopCap, the Bejeweled series is among the most successful casual games ever released, selling tens of millions of copies. Bejeweled has brought gem-matching delight to almost every game platform imaginable since 2000 and has inspired scores of clones. Although it is the first title that comes to mind when match-3 games are mentioned, it was likely influenced by earlier matching games such as Scharik and Puzzle League.
In Collapse you click on groups of same-colored bricks in an effort to keep them from reaching the top of the screen. Triggering black bombs will take out a bunch of surrounding bricks, and triggering colored bombs will remove all bricks of that color. This series from GameHouse is still going strong a decade after it first launched.
3. Jewel Quest
With icons inspired by Mayan culture, Jewel Quest is another match-3 series that has withstood the test of time. Jewel Quest uses the standard match-3 mechanics, except that each time you make a match the background squares change color. The objective is to make a match in each square of the background grid.
Bounce Out plays a lot like Bejeweled, but it uses rubber balls rather than gems. There is no untimed mode in Bounce Out, so it's always are race against the clock. Although not particularly ground-breaking, the sounds are very unique and it's a great way to get your match-3 fix.
Popping groups of two or more ballons to release the hidden prizes is how you win at Poppit, a matching game from Pogo. Large groups of ballons award special bonuses, and you also get extra points for having five or less balloons remaining when all the prizes have dropped.