Balls to it all, gentlepeople of the interwebs. Balls to it all. I am not going to start off this review by being nice about this game because there are absolutely zero to be nice about. Have you ever played a puzzle game? Have you ever wondered what makes a puzzle game fun? Well apparently the developers of this game did not and didn’t even CONSULT anyone about it either. I mean… there are plenty of rules for puzzle games in terms of making them simple to play, difficult to master and all that bobbins. Over the years, we’ve had Tetris clones, Puyo Puyo clones and to a lesser degree Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo Task Force Ranger Danger Supercalifrag-
FUUUUUUUUUUUCK. ZANGIEF. WE GET IT. LONG NAMES. STOP RUINING THE TABLES. CUSTOMERS.
You will find in that massive, vast library of puzzle games that exist that no one has copied/plagiarised Swing for the very reason that it is an absolute crock of shit. It doesn’t even qualify as a puzzle game in that there really is no fun to it in the slightest. I mean… technically it’s a puzzle game. But it’s just an abominable one that makes me want to throw my controller at my brother even though he’s about 60 miles away and he has children and I don’t really like to advocate violence but THIS GAME MAKES ME ANGRY.
SO DON’T PLAY IT.
Swing is a low budget game. That’s for definite. I mean… just by looking at it and having to go through the motions of even STARTING the game, which take about five minutes of loading and setting up to get to, it feels like a proper budget game. It feels as though the game was developed by a team who literally spent about a week trying to perfect something and then thought: “sod it, that’ll do” and sent to use and hoped for the best. Or worst. Either way.
Essentially it follows the idea of stringing together three balls, only these must be done horizontally and features the added gimmick of weighting every ball with a number and plonking them all onto a screen containing a series of scales at the bottom. Plonking down a ball will weigh that side of the scale down until you manage to make the other side heavier, which will in turn flick the top ball on the other side fly up into the air and land somewhere on the screen. It will land in the place you expect it to based on the mass of the ball and its trajectory goes in the logical pattern of straight up, straight across, straight down.
Not in an arc like… in physics.
Here we can see a ball being flung on the left hand side of the screen. Given that its mass of 4 has been supplanted by a mass of 6 on the other side of the scale, this will fly two spaces to the right and land on top of the two green balls instead, which will in turn change its total mass from 6 to 10 making the possibility of flicking one of the balls on the other side much easier. Sometimes, you might be so clever as to flick a ball across the screen into the correct space in order to set off a chain of balls being cleared from the screen! I say clever… what I actually mean is luck.
Because skill literally means NOTHING in this game because you never EVER have enough proper control of ANYTHING in this game for it to be remotely worth your while.
And therein lies the problem. There really is no actual TRUE skill to this game. It is partly luck and partly UTTER FRUSTRATION.
Let me explain myself a little bit more clearly.
The major problem in this game is that there is almost TOO MUCH to think about in this game. When you begin, you start off with four different coloured balls with which you can match. This is pretty standard. It’s your staple number of colours for the most part. Bust A Move, a different type of puzzle game, uses maybe 8 colours but it’s focus is on accuracy and reacting under pressure to a small degree. Puyo Pop goes up to 5 colours because any more than that and you would be filling up a screen unnecessarily with random colours that you’ll never get too often. There’s not enough space for that type of stuff to happen.
Having anything more than 5 in Swing is detrimental to the game itself because HOLY SHIT there is absolutely NO room for anything to happen AT ALL and when it does, it can accidentally kill the game.
Are you still with me?
I’m not. And I’m telling you this stuff.
A few other things then before I start screaming at an enormously high volume. Placing five of the same coloured balls on top of each other melts them into one ball of their combined masses, something that admittedly can be used quite effectively to free up space on the grid but also means one side of the scale gets weighed down almost – ALMOST – permanently because usually that combined mass kills that side of the scale and pins it to the ground unrelentingly unless you happen to do the same to the other side of that scale, which can happen but occurrences are less likely in the later stages of the game when you have eight colours to deal with and a load of random power-ups as well, none of which make a huge amount of sense from the off but ARE YOU HAVING FUN YET?
DOESN’T THIS GAME SOUND LIKE FUN?
WE’RE NOT DONE WITH THE EXPLANATION YET!
Obviously, if you get a horizontal row of three same-coloured balls, they disappear and take any adjacent same-coloured balls along with it, so shoving four greens in a vertical line and then three horizontally will get rid of all of those green balls, freeing up more space. Occasionally, it does make sense to stack a few together and it does increase the points score you get and whatnot. Of course, that means the scales get rebalanced and scales flick back and whatnot and things get flung everywhere and holy shit, this game is still continuing to be an absolute mess.
And this is why it’s not fun. It makes you think about TOO much at once. If you flick this ball down, it’ll release this ball but that’ll be too heavy for this side of that scale and it’ll throw this ball over to that side of the board and then that blocks this move… and if I put that one here…
FUCKING HELL, MY BRAIN IS HAVING AN ANEURYSM JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.
WHO PLAYS A PUZZLE GAME TO SPEND POTENTIALLY NINETEEN MINUTES PONDERING THE POSSIBILITIES OF EVERY SINGLE MOVE AND HOW IT COULD BENEFIT YOU? WHAT EVEN IS THE POINT? YOU MIGHT THINK ABOUT THE PERFECT GAME BUT IF THE BALL YOU WANT ISN’T AVAILABLE, YOU’RE BACK TO SQUARE ONE.
IT. IS. A. MINDFUCK.
AND NO ONE WANTS A MINDFUCK FOR A PUZZLE GAME.
I don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to figure out what MIGHT happen if I send a ball to this scale and get this ball… etc… There is JUST too much going on. The balls at the top of the screen are what you have the choices of when you get there and yes, you get to see what the next ball will be when you choose another one but EVEN THIS IS TOO MUCH. That suddenly means that as well as having to consider masses, 8 colours of balls and the physics of balls flying everywhere, you also have to consider WHERE you want that next ball to appear and how likely you are to grab it from that spot, etc… OH MY GOD.
IT. IS. TOO. MUCH.
I actually never even considered ANY of this when I played and got just as frustrated because having to think about the masses flicking balls into the air like I’m some sort of rocket scientist just doesn’t appeal and eventually, one stray ball flicked up and onto the ONLY high stack of balls I had, causing me to get game over. One tiny, possibly slightly careless BUT WHO CAN BLAME ME move and that was it.
And essentially… that IS it. There’s… no real… point to the game either. There’s a one-player mode and multiplayer mode… and a mission mode… and mission mode is…
Well… it’s really, really shit. Not just a bit shit. It’s really, really shit. This is the first mission. To line three yellows up. And there are spiked balls which kill any ball that touches it. And… it’s… VERY off-putting. There aren’t enough of these stages either and to begin on a stage where everything just sorta happens and it’s all very trial and error is actually very disconcerting. There is absolutely no sense of fun in this mode of gameplay. It’s padding and it’s very poor padding. Like shoving knives into a pillowcase and expecting you to sleep on that instead.
And let’s be honest here… you’re reading this and looking at the screenshots and marvelling at them, aren’t you? Don’t they look amazing? Of course they don’t. The whole set up looks absolutely abysmal and from the off. The industrialised look of the game doesn’t really work and it feels really tense throughout. It’s actually bizarrely quite stressful to look at. It doesn’t even LOOK fun. If anything, what you’re staring at is an A-Level maths question in the making. It wouldn’t fucking surprise me if they decided to use this next year or something.
Let’s see now… if I drop a ball weighing 5 whatevers onto this scale, how many moves will it take for me to get rid of all of the red balls?
That kinda thing.
IT’S A TERRIFYING THOUGHT AND I’M SO SORRY.
And the answer of course is to line up three star blocks and clear the whole screen so however many moves it takes to get the star blocks because I haven’t got a clue how or when they appear because I really, really don’t care enough to spend my time waiting, trying to find that out. It’s getting to me, man… it’s just getting to me.
The numbers… the colours… the thought of something happening next and what might happen afterwards and where my next ball will land and HOLY SHIT IT’S JUST TOO MUCH.
And holy shit… it’s so unfun that it’s not even possible to quite put into words how tense and anxious the thought of playing this game and trying to EXPLAIN it is causing me. I actually feel physically sick trying to explain it because there is SO much to think about and SO much that you have to do to be able to play this properly… that it hurts. It physically hurts.
I can actually feel my brain melting with this one.
In a world where we have slightly brainless clone match-3 games, I suppose this is the opposite to all of those. This is quite honestly the most cerebral-heavy puzzle game that ever existed. It is beyond compare the hardest puzzle game to exist and also the least fair, most perplexing, most dull and unrewarding piece of garbage that ever puzzled the genre.
It doesn’t even feel like a game. It feels an exam.
And if you find me someone who likes exams, I’ll show them this game because fucking hell, they certainly won’t like them after playing this piece of shit.
But also if they like exams, you need to have a chat with them.