Tetris vs Match 3, and Why They’re Different

“Match 3″ style games are very popular, but I’m often frustrated when playing them.  Let’s discuss why.

The two I’ve been playing most recently are PuzzleQuest and the new Ron Gilbert game, Scurvy Scallywags.  Scurvy Scallywags is relatively casual, so I’ll focus on PuzzleQuest.  All match-3 games suffer from the problem that frustrates me, though.

The issue is an overuse of random dice rolls.  The manifestation of this in PuzzleQuest is that the computer enemy can randomly attack you if the random rolls result in chain attacks.  This is terribly frustrating, especially in PuzzleQuest where it feels like you’re supposed to be strategizing more.

Lets think about this from a higher level.  How does a “turn” work in each of these games?


  1. Player takes a turn
  2. Computer randomizes, sometimes repeatedly


  1. Player is told the next state
  2. Player takes a turn
  3. Computer randomizes ONCE
In Summary, there are two key things going on here that make Tetris more strategic
  1. In Tetris, the computer randomly rolls BEFORE you have taken your turn.
  2. In Tetris, the computer rolls ONE random number per turn, never more.

Keeping these things in mind, I really think match-3 can be tweaked a bit to improve the strategy needed.  The more random dice rolls a game has, the sooner it seems to “top out” as far as strategy goes.  The board game Elder Sign has this problem, as well.

I wonder what PuzzleQuest would be like if the puzzle part was Tetris…


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