The Pairs Are Gone review
- Vintage: 2008
- Developer: Paradize
- Genre: Puzzle
Far from a traditional game of pairs, The Pairs Are Gone has a subtlety to it that goes deeper than its simple facade suggests. Visual puzzle games are always really difficult to explain in words, but here goes.
Originally created to feature in STOT (the ST Offline Tournament), Pairs is a port of a mini game which the author loved that was bundled with Super Mario 64 on the DS. It greets you with a screen of cards placed face up in a 5×4 grid that you must pair together. Cards can only be paired when they are adjacent to each other (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). You gain the most points for diagonal matches, and the least for horizontal matches.
Cards shift right into the gaps your pairing creates, and wrap around from the left side of the screen onto the right (onto the row above), so must be removed carefully in order to make sure there are always viable pairs available until the last cards are eliminated. If there are no pairs available and you have failed to clear the board, you lose a life and points relative to the amount of cards still on-screen. Succesfully clear the board and you gain a life, along with a healthy points bonus.
And herein lies the crux of the game. As the author of the accompanying .txt file puts it: “Points, points, points!” After 25 levels your score is saved for posterity, and the compulsion to play again is very strong, thanks to the well balanced scoring system. The more you play this game, the more you learn its nuances, and instead of just trying to survive the levels, you learn how to exploit the card’s movements and formations for maximum points.
The cards are nicely rendered animals in a style lifted straight from Zoo Keeper (also on DS) and the default music is an excellently rendered snippet of the Mario theme. Unfortunately, the snippet is very short and repeatedly looped until it drives you crazy. The latest version includes music selection: just press ‘m’ on the title screen – a godsend.
An addictive game with the usual high quality of presentation we have come to expect from the excellent Paradize. If you like this game, don’t forget to send the author a postcard from your locale (his address is in the readme).