Super Collapse 3 is the latest installment of a popular puzzle franchise that got its start on the Web. The basic design shares similarities with click-based puzzlers, such as Bejeweled and Panel De Pon. Lines of multicolored squares constantly push up from the bottom of the screen. Using the stylus, you have to touch clusters of three or more squares to make them disappear. The rest of the pile then falls into place. You get more points for popping large clusters, so it's generally a good idea to let squares of the same color collect to maximize your payoff. Helpful items--bombs, time stoppers, and shuffle blocks--also appear at regular intervals to keep the excitement going.
The controls couldn't be any easier. On the PC, you'd use the mouse and onscreen pointer to select then pop bricks. In the DS version, you simply touch the bricks with the stylus and they magically disappear. Response is quick and accurate, even when the pile is rising full-speed toward the top of the screen. The graphics and audio in the DS version aren't as polished as in the PC or PSP versions of the game, but the excellent touch-screen controls totally make up for the downgrades to those superficial aspects.
It's not like the utilitarian presentation hurts the experience. This is a puzzle game, which means what matters most is that you can see everything clearly. To that end, Super Collapse 3 succeeds. The lower screen contains the puzzle field while the upper screen contains status information, such as score and lines remaining. The bricks are painted in primary colors that are easy to make out against the puzzle field's solid black backdrop. Outside of the puzzle field, cheesy rendered landscapes fill the remaining screen area. The audio consists of pop-heavy sound effects and pleasant mood music.
Multiple game types give you numerous ways to enjoy the basic design. You can play continuously, try to clear X number of lines, or see how many points you can amass in two minutes. There's a strategy mode, in which every click raises the pile by a line, as well as a puzzle type, in which you have to figure out how to clear a massive pile without having any blocks left over. Then, there are two goofy game types called slider and relapse. In slider, the lines of blocks are constantly sliding sideways. In relapse, there are two piles of blocks erupting from the top and bottom of the screen. Your goal is to clear a certain number of lines without letting the piles collide.
The developers alsoimplemented a quest mode that ties together all of the basic game types. There are 10 lands to travel through, each of which contains roughly a dozen increasingly difficult challenges. For every challenge you complete, you'll earn some coins that you can use to buy items from the shop. These items include bombs that you can detonate whenever you want, hints for puzzles, and keys that unlock game types in the quickplay mode. The nice thing about the quest mode is that it provides a good way to gradually figure out the nuances of each game type. The not-so-nice thing is that you absolutely must play through the quest mode to unlock all of the game types for play in the quickplay mode. That's a meaty 10-to-15-hour time investment for people who just want to get their groove on in a specific game type.
If your friends buy their own copies of the game, as many as four of you can link up wirelessly to compete in countdown, survival, and relapse matches. Players can also team up and work together to complete a preset number of lines before time runs out. Wireless linkups work like they're supposed to, but it's just a shame that multiplayer is restricted to face-to-face connections because online play through Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connect service would've been icing on the cake.
As far as click-based puzzle games go, Super Collapse 3 is one of the better games. The design itself serves up a satisfying mix of strategy and chain reactions. Also, the seven different game types give you seven unique ways to enjoy clicking away at those pesky colorful squares. An online matchmaking mode would've been nice, considering the $30 price tag, but there's still enough content here to justify the asking price.