Match-three games regularly task us with connecting like-coloured gems, orbs and tiles; Mitchell Corporation’s eShop oddity imagines a scenario where we might want to do the same with people. Grace and Savannah, Tokyo Crash Mobs’ impatient stars, are only too happy to abandon standard queuing etiquette, throwing and rolling suit-wearing ‘scenesters’ at their peers to clear a path to the front of the line.
It’s an idiosyncratic approach to an otherwise conventional puzzle game: Mitchell’s own Puzz Loop in hipster gear on 3DS, if you will. You slide the stylus to aim and release it to throw, a pleasingly intuitive control scheme compromised slightly by the rather narrow framing of the action and the awkward process of using a power-up by dragging the reticule over your avatar. These are relatively minor issues in the early stages, but as things get more frantic and fresh wrinkles are introduced – bombs, queue-jumpers, UFOs – it all begins to feel a little scrappy. And while its jerkily animated, digitised characters are charming in a rudimentary GIF kind of way, elsewhere it gets a little too self-consciously strange, its puzzles bookended by some calculatedly odd FMV sequences.
Still, the mechanics underpinning all the weirdness are as solid as ever, and there’s a cathartic pleasure in bowling over a group of sneaky scenesters on the verge of cutting in. Tokyo Crash Mobs might not be the best version of Puzz Loop around, but in allowing us to briefly abandon our traditional British reserve, it becomes one of the most satisfying variants we’ve played.