Since time immemorial, man has sought to sort his symbols by shape and colour. While we may take for granted our efficacy at this essential task, things would be a lot more disorganised without the work of scientists like the moustachioed Professor Lexis. Now, for the first time, Digital Leisure gives us an inside look at his laboratory. Welcome to the exciting field of putting things with identical things.
Science aside, Match Up! is a fun but generic memory game that lays out cards for you to flip over in search of picture pairs. There's nothing terribly complex here, just some squares, circles, triangles, diamonds and crosses of varying hues. When the playing field becomes more crowded, the unremarkable quality of the set adds to the challenge as some of these shapes require a powerful mental note to quickly tell apart and remember the locations thereof. It’s almost exclusively controlled with the stylus and thus easy to pick up and play.
There are two modes, Memory Match and Match Machine. The former is the classic game: you flip over a card and then, with some trial and error, find and do the same to its mate. The two disappear, and the stage ends when you've cleared them all away. A bar at the left depletes with each incorrectly selected square, and it's game over when the meter empties. The difficulty slope is gradual and fair from one stage to the next, and the game keeps things interesting by organising the tiles into different patterns and shapes and randomising the symbols displayed on their undersides in each round. You're also allowed more mistakes when the number of cards increases. There are plenty of levels, so you shouldn't grow bored for some time.
The second mode is a unique variation that turns the casual, concentrative amusement into a hectic puzzle game. The screen fills with cards and as you flip, match and remove them, more drop from the top. As you progress you'll level up and more interesting cards will enter the mix, the most prominent of which is the explosive bomb card. If you don’t find its mate within the ten second countdown, you’re toast. This mode requires that you find symbols of matching shape but not necessarily colour, though if you are able to locate a perfect pair you’ll get more points. It still presents an intense challenge, however, as you’ll almost constantly find yourself frantically searching for a bomb’s match. The challenge ramps up quite quickly, which will please some but frustrate those who would prefer a more gradual increase in difficulty.
The game keeps track of some of your statistics, though it’s a limited list. You’re also allowed to save and come back during Memory Match and replay levels that you’ve previously visited, but the saving system has some flaws and it’s not infrequent that your progress will mysteriously disappear. The option to begin a bit down the line greatly adds to the replay value and it’s very unfortunate that it doesn’t work all the time. Alternately, you’re unable to start at a higher level in Match Machine, but this is less of a downside as the challenge ramps up so quickly.
The presentation is decent but far from spectacular. The image of Professor Lexis that adorns the top screen is colourful and attractive with a few smooth animations, but that’s about all you’ll see of the man. The shapes you’re to match are also as generic as can be, and while this adds a bit to the difficulty as previously mentioned, it ultimately fails to impress and might leave you wishing for a more interesting symbol set. The sound effects and music are about the most unmemorable offered in a DSiWare title to date, but that’s a far preferable option to the obnoxious, grating tracks that some other titles include.
While simple, easy to pick up and fun, this game never feels above average. It’s just too generic and limited, and the steep difficulty slope in Match Machine mode further quashes its potential. Still, it’s not a bad game, just an overly unexceptional one, and the 200 Point price tag feels about right. This might be a good pick for the competitive shopper looking for some simple fun, but it fails to impress on any other level.