Match, Cook, Repeat
Embark on an early access puzzle matching adventure with a cute Panda and Dragon in Daddy Hippo’s Panda Swap. This rewarding match-three puzzler will have you traveling across Chinese provinces, searching for mystical artifacts and tasty ingredients.
Rotating to victory
Panda Swap plays pretty much like any matching game. You drag a tile and try to match three or more of the same color. Once the level is complete, you are given one to three stars based on your score. Compared to other matchers, Panda swap lets you move diagonally, allowing you to achieve victory in fewer moves and separating itself from the competition. Another feature is the game’s rotate mechanic. After matching a certain number of tiles, you can rotate the board to fill up dead space and break tiles and obstacles you couldn’t before.
The main goals of the game’s 50 levels vary from breaking a specific tile number to escorting objects to the bottom of the grid. Along the way, items like boxes, vines, chains and other obstacles will challenge your approach to each level. If you fail, you can either pay gold or watch an ad to get three extra tries to help on challenging stages. All the levels can be completed without powerups, but you will notice when the game wants you to use them due to the difficulty level.
Whether you are unlocking the artifacts, opening treasure with stars, or making food, each awards you with a mix of rewards. The most valuable drops from these sources are power-ups. These help you in levels and can only be obtained randomly as a reward or purchased with gold or real currency. The other items you can receive are ingredients, and my personal favorite the unlimited life power-up. If you carefully redeem your rewards, it is possible to go through the whole game without ever needing to worry about waiting to redo levels.
Cooking is the game’s other feature that will reap many items upon completion. As you collect ingredients, you can make up to three meals that correspond to a specific Asian country. Each meal offers rewards and contributes to your chef levels which give you even more items. Cooking is a fun side activity that rewards you well for mastering the levels and it may even get you interested in trying these Asian inspired dishes as well.
Issues And Fun
Panda swaps issues come from a couple of sources. The number of ads that present themselves to the player is terrible. Upon completion of level six, you will start getting an advertisement from almost everything in the game. Most come from level completion, while others from collecting rewards and making meals which weaken the Game’s fun factor.
The other issues stem from collecting power-ups, music and the lack of significant visual changes in levels. The visuals and music never change or evolve when traveling to new regions; only the home page gets a new look. Level power-ups eventually become a major issue due to being linked to in-game purchases. After a while, the difficulty in obtaining them by play becomes annoying, and I can see players will no doubt hoard the free ones obtained.
Overall, Panda swap is a fun addition to the many puzzle matching games out there. I enjoyed my time going through the 50 levels offered. My biggest complaint is coming from ads since the levels can be completed without items and the good performance. Since the game is in early access, there is not a ton of content, but there will be plenty more for new and returning players with future updates.
Is It Hardcore?
Panda Swap is a match-three puzzle game that has fun gameplay including the option to rotate game boards. It’s short but with more updates and features this can become a great puzzle game. Just tone down the ads and add more level art.