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 a pointer, you have to click on clusters of three or more to make them disappear. The rest of the pile then falls into place. You get more points for popping large clusters, so the strategy for high scores involves planning ahead to cajole squares of the same color into falling down next to each other. Helpful items--bombs, time stoppers, and shuffle blocks--also appear at regular intervals to keep the excitement going. If you enjoy other click-based puzzle games, you'll probably like this one.
Like many games of this ilk, the presentation is sparse and utilitarian. Rendered landscapes depicting green fields and snowy hills surround the play field, but the play field itself consists of a big black box full of colored squares. At least the graphics are crisp, and the colors used for squares are distinct primary colors, which means you'll never end up in a situation wondering whether a square is orange, red, or some artsy shade of pink. By and large, the only hits of visual excitement you'll witness, apart from the thrill of clicking away a huge mass, are the cute explosions that happen when you trigger a bomb or remove more than a dozen squares at once. Each background offers a different piece of pleasant mood music, and the sound effects consist of an appropriate assortment of clicks, pops, and explosions.
The main upgrade Super Collapse! 3 offers over previous installments is an increase in the number of game types. You get the usual modes, which let you play continuously, try to clear "X"-many 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. And then there are two goofy game types called relapse and slider. In relapse, there are two piles of blocks erupting from the top and bottom of the screen, and your goal is to clear a certain number of lines without letting the piles collide. On the other hand, slider is an appropriate title for a game type in which the lines of blocks are constantly sliding sideways. If one of your friends picks up a copy of the game, you can link up wirelessly and trade junk lines while competing in the classic, relapse, strategy, and slider game types.
The developers also borrowed a page from the Nintendo playbook and implemented a quest mode that ties together all of the different game types. In quest mode, you travel through 10 lands, 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 quick-play 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 quest mode to unlock all of the game types for play in the quick-play 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.
All told, Super Collapse! 3 for the PSP is a solid puzzler and has good value. The design itself serves up a satisfying mix of strategy and chain reactions, and 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 the icing on the cake, but you really can't argue with what you get for the 20-dollar asking price.