As we announced yesterday, Disney Interactive today released ‘Maleficent Free Fall’ for Apple iOS and Android devices (now available through the App Store and Google Play respectively), the follow-up to its highly successful (and addictive) ‘Frozen Free Fall.’ So how does the new game stack up versus its predecessor? After about an hour and several levels of play, here’s my take:
While much of the mechanics remain the same, ‘Maleficent Free Fall’ lets you know it’s different right off the bat. Instead of simply matching gems and reaching a target score, the first levels play off the ‘light vs dark’ theme and require you to ‘light up the board.’ You do so by lighting up individual tile spaces by clearing the tiles contained inside them. It’s a take on the classic ‘Light’s Out’ type of game play, only once you light up a space, it remains lit.
For the most part, special tiles (created by matching 4 or 5 of a kind or special patterns) remain the same, with one notable difference: combining two magic-color tiles systematically remove every tile once column by column as opposed to ‘Frozen Free Fall,’ where it’s done color by color — it seems to make for a more gratifying experience.
Unsurprisingly, power-ups are themed to Maleficent, but are still fairly similar (so far) to their ‘Frozen’ counterparts. One key difference however is that power-ups can now be ‘purchased’ as needed using the in-game currency of magic points. Magic points are earned simply by earning stars and you can even replay levels to earn more magic points. Of course, the game also offers in-app purchases to exchange real world money for magic points ($.99 for a ‘jar’ of 100 magic points, $1.99 for 250 magic points). So far, power-ups run in the 40-50 magic points range each and one can reasonably expect those prices to increase as the power abilities increase. Another huge plus is that power-ups may not be reliant on who you choose to ‘guide’ you through a level, as multiple power-ups are available to choose from via a fly-out menu available during play.
Levels are arranged as ‘chapters’ in a storybook, with 15 levels per chapter. At the time of this review, I had finished chapter one (young Maleficent) and started on chapter two (older Maleficent). Play limits continue the lives/time model of ‘Frozen Free Fall,’ and so game play can naturally be extended with a $.99 in-app purchase (sadly, magic points seem to have no use here).
The graphics are particularly sharp and much more detailed than ‘Frozen,’ and the game’s audio cues are enhanced with match chimes advancing in progressively higher tones as ‘chains’ are completed (the secret to racking up more points in both ‘Free Fall’ games), though it does appear to max out at a certain level — but that has to be a good thing. It did take a little getting used to the light vs dark play, but once the learning curve was achieved, it was smooth sailing… at least until the next game mechanic was introduced.
All in all, ‘Maleficent Free Fall’ is an absolutely success, taking what made its predecessor work so well and improving on it without introducing any negatives. When it comes to Maleficent, I’ve opted to reduce things to a pass/fail system, dubbing them either Magneficent or Meh-leficent and ‘Maleficent Free Fall’ is a strong Magneficent.