Essentially, this OpenFeint enabled title is a match-three type of puzzle game, not so much like Bejeweled as it is like classic arcade titles that require you to actually shoot multicolored orbs at a descending sea of other orbs. However, unlike titles like Bubble Town or Bubble Island on Facebook, this iPhone application only allows the user to shoot strait.
The game has three modes: Endless, Score Attack, and Drop Attack; each of which can be set to easy or hard difficulties. In each game mode, a large number “Coins” slowly move their way toward the bottom of the screen. If they reach it, you lose. In order to remove them, players use the touch screen to fire a coin of their own up one of six vertical planes. The idea is to make rows of three, either horizontally or vertically, of the same color, with each shot.
This is where the game starts to get a little more interesting. Beyond different difficulties increasing descending speed and color variety, each coin has two sides; each of which are a different color. As one can imagine, the basic game is extraordinarily easy and can be learned in about two minutes, but here’s the kicker: Any coin of the same color touching the three that were removed, and any touching those will also disappear. In order to swap colors and flip a coin – any coin, be it the one you shoot or the ones already on the field – a mere touch is all that is needed.
Obviously, this creates a very nice means to compound scores, and it is actually pretty fun to try and plan out moves using the mechanic. Additionally, 180 takes the Bejeweled “Combo” mechanic and will connect any remaining coins after those between them have been removed. Should they be the same color, they too will also go away. Frankly, the combination of these two score manipulators makes for a wonderful way to add some depth to such a simple concept. Granted, it’s not as amusing as all the power ups and random special effects, score generators, and multipliers found in the PopCap grand daddy, but it’s a nice addition, nonetheless.
As far as the specific game modes go, they honestly don’t feel all that different from each other in that only the scoring mechanism changes (save for Endless which is like Score Attack). Endless is fairly self-explanatory where you play until you fail; Score Attack is just trying to get the highest score you can in 90 seconds; and Drop Attack appears to base scoring on how many lines you add to the screen.
Stylistically, 180 is alright. It’s a bit simplistic and lacks the flair that some of its predecessors have had in the past. That said, it doesn’t look bad at all, but if you are a fan of Bejeweled (which the game does compare itself too), you will be a little disappointed. It is interesting, however, that 180 has a selection of four curious, anime-like avatars that cheer you on as you play. They dance, they cheer, and they get upset when you do poorly. It’s actually a very cool idea, but they’re so small that they don’t really get noticed much; not that you want them to when people are focusing on the puzzle at hand.
Since 180 is a score based puzzle game, it fits perfectly on the OpenFeint platform’s leaderboard systems. Curiously, the new, free version of 180 is not enabled. Regardless, in addition to the scoreboards, there is a surprisingly large number of achievements to unlock and share as well. In fact, in light of that, Headcase Games is hosting a promotional contest in which the first player to clear all the achievements will win their choice of a game console of iPad. However, this guy started on the 18th, so if you’re reading this now, you’d better get cracking.
Overall, 180 is a pretty decent puzzle game for the iPhone. But for $1.99 it’s unlikely to be chosen over a free version of something like Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook or Bejeweled 2 for a dollar more. Nevertheless, if you are sick of the exact same match-three games, then 180 does at least feel different and fun enough to be worth a try.