I’ve played many match 3 games before, and I’ve also enjoyed one or two grocery store time management games, but this is the first I’ve dabbled in a combination of the two. It turns out that the mix works quite well! There are a couple of limitations that the random nature of the food drop and the interface place on strategy, but overall the two concepts blend together nicely and actually make for a rather challenging game.
Like typical time management games, it’s all about the customer. Your customers will line up at the bottom of the screen, each one having a list of items they need to buy. To fill their items you must make a sufficient number of matches in the match 3 board that takes up most of the screen. Once you’ve match enough of an item a check will appear next to that item in the shopper’s list, and excess will go to the next shopper that needs it. When all items are matched for a shopper a cash register appears. The customer will eventually go away on their own, but you can clear them out early by tapping on them.
Of course every patron is losing patience as they stand around waiting, and I’m assuming they’ll leave if you don’t get their order filled before their patience runs out, though I haven’t had that happen yet. The obvious cure for this is to fill their order in a timely fashion. To help you random power ups will appear like candy to sooth the shoppers’ nerves and a cart to clear away rows of items and help shake things up a bit. Each new power up is introduced after several levels of play, and once you’ve acquired a power up you can level up that power up to make it more useful. The one thing I didn’t care for was that it seems like the hard candy, which only affects one shopper, always affects the first shopper instead of giving you a chance to pick.
Speaking of upgrades, once you’ve completed a level you’ll earn stars based on reaching your goal, your expert goal, and the bonus set out for the level. In effect you can earn up to three stars per level. These stars can be spent upgrading power ups, food quality (which I assume means you need less matches to fill an order), and the store itself (for instance, adding 10 seconds to the clock at the start of the level). There are a lot of items to upgrade and a lot of upgrade levels per item, so each game really could be a different experience from that perspective.
The graphics are certainly pleasant, though not quite up to the standards I usually expect from time management games. The match 3 board looks decent enough, and you can certainly tell what everything is. Shopper portraits look alright, as does the image of the shopkeeper on the results screen of each level, but it’s clear the artist isn’t quite as skilled with drawing people. The sound effects are adequate, and I do like the voices. It’s just a shame the diva never has anything nice to say! The music pretty much sounds like what you’d hear while walking around a supermarket, so I suppose your affinity towards the tune would depend on how much you like that somewhat generic elevator type instrumental. For me it works.
The main drawback to Supermarket Scramble is that unlike traditional time management games, you don’t have as much control over your resources since they come from the randomly generated match 3 interface. That aside, this game has managed to take two of my favorite casual genres and mash them up in an interesting and fun way. I wouldn’t mind seeing the game get a bit of a facelift aesthetically, but that in no way detracts from the game’s entertainment value. Whether you look at it as “you got your match 3 in my time management” or “you got your time management in my match 3”, what you end up with is a whole lot of fun.
Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link