It’s not exactly like the iPhone is hurting for match 3 games, so each new one that comes to market needs something different to make it worth playing over all the other ones. The funny thing is, I’m not really sure that Drop Dead has that “something different”, yet it’s still got me hooked. The atmosphere certainly helps things along quite a bit, but maybe it’s just proof that sometimes “back to the basics” isn’t such a bad place to go.
In Drop Dead you play a guy running from zombies. To escape the zombies you must feed them body parts, which is done by matching three or more of the same parts in a row. You can either tap each of two adjacent parts to swap them, or you can drag the two parts to make the exchange. From there you probably know how the whole match 3 thing works by now. If you make a match of 4 parts you get an explosive version of that part which will blow up all parts adjacent to it when used in a match. If you are lucky enough to match 5 parts you get a grenade that will destroy all instances of a part that it is swapped with.
Drop Dead has 3 different game play modes. In Story mode you’ll race through 20 levels, each of which requires you to feed the zombie enough parts that it falls off the edge of the screen. Once you’ve beaten a level in Story mode it becomes available in the other two modes. In Endless mode you pick one level and your goal is to keep the zombie at bay for as long as you can. The only quibble I have with this mode is that if you pick a lower level, the game should still speed up after a while. Otherwise good players could find the lower levels truly endless. In Impending Doom you will get caught, it’s just a matter of how many matches you can make before the zombie gets to you.
The big thing missing from this game is any sort of social integration. I’d personally love to see OpenFeint since I’m still running OS 3.1.3, but Game Center would be better than nothing. It’s kind of odd to see a game these days with a focus on scoring that doesn’t give you the opportunity to rub those scores in other players’ faces. Obviously it’s not mandatory, but it sure would help this game a lot.
The graphics are really cool in a cartoony sort of way. It’s funny because I often forget that the matching objects are body parts. For instance, the spine part often reminds me of the neck of a guitar. The real treat is the little window at the bottom of the screen that shows you running from the zombies. There are a number of different zombie designs to entertain you, and the backgrounds are pretty cool as well. It would be cool to see even more different zombie types based on the commentary of some of the levels, but what’s there is a great start.
The sound effects aren’t bad. The one thing that’s really missing is any moaning and groaning from the zombies. A zombie game always has to have moaning and groaning. The music is decent, though it would be nice to have a few different themes to spread across the levels, given how diverse the settings are. The music played at the main menu is actually more interesting than the in-game music, which sadly seems to happen a lot with indie games. Not quite sure what makes the menu so appealing to give it the cool music.
Drop Dead is a nice little match 3 game with a cool zombie theme. There may be nothing revolutionary about the mechanics, and it might even seem like a step back in some regards, but I still found myself clicking next each time I beat a level to move on. There are definitely some improvements that could be made, but given the cheap price tag you shouldn’t feel gypped for what you get.