Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it's difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we'll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it's really worth your time (and money).
While Disney has a tendency to slap its characters onto generic puzzle game retreads, or overextend its original ideas until they feel like generic retreads, the Mouse House does sneak out a fresh, fun mobile game every so often. The original Where's My Water? was one, before all the sequels and spinoffs grew tiresome, and now Dodo Pop is another.
In truth, it feels a bit like a mash-up of existing puzzle concepts. It's a color-matching game, like many others, and it has the unstable jumble-of-icons approach like Disney Tsum Tsum (made by Line, not Disney itself). But unlike that game, Dodo Pop is a slow-paced, methodical affair, tasking you to maneuver and clear enough of the colorful gumballs to complete each stage. Dodo Pop doesn't feel quite as inspired as Where's My Water?, but it's quite solid--and it's a very fair free-to-play entry.
Dodo Pop quickly establishes the cute premise of helping a flightless dodo bird get back home by feeding him loads of bubble gum--so he can float home in a very Disney-esque manner, I suppose. But really, it's all about matching together like-colored gumballs that shift and drop in a big pile. Match two or more and they're cleared with a tap; the further down they are in the level, the more gumballs will fall and move to fill the space.
Since clearing gumballs always requires a tap on your part, you can't set up Candy Crush Saga-style chain reactions. However, you can strategically "move" certain colors into position by clearing the other gumballs below. And it's necessary to plot out your moves and try to remove big chunks of balls at the same time, as each stage gives you a limited number of moves to meet the objective.
Sometimes the goal is simply to clear a number of certain-colored balls: 36 green, 30 yellow, and 30 red, for example. In other stages, you'll find balls with numbers on them, and the only way to win is to pop those in bunches with at least as many like-colored balls as shown. Elsewhere, white gumballs with green stars are all you need to clear, but they're scattered all around the level, making moving them into close proximity the real challenge.
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