With a glut of Candy Crush Saga clones flooding iTunes, it was beginning to look like there was no more room in the match puzzle genre for innovation. Then came ZEZ, rocket-punching that idea in the head.
Every 60 second round of ZEZ begins with a cat punching a robot with a rocket glove. In a world filled with nothing but Faheys, that would be enough to take the top spot in any app store chart. I have punched that robot in the head more than 100 times in the past week, and it's still not gotten old.
But what's cool about ZEZ isn't that initial punch, but what happens afterwards. The vengeful (I guess he's vengeful, you can never really tell with cats) feline launches into the air, propelling itself higher and higher by matching symbols in the most frantic minute of matching I've played in ages.
Using its powerful rocket glove, the cat matches rows and columns of strange robotic creatures, each successful match increasing its upwards velocity. Match four and the cat earns a mega boost. Keep the matches going and the combo meter fills, increasing the momentum even further.
The goal is to reach the highest height in 60 seconds. Once that minute is up, it's time for the second part of the one-two robot punch.
Hold down the button to descend upon the unfortunate machine man like the wrath of some anime kitty god.
It's the vertical motion of Knightmare Tower meets the frantic matching of Bejeweled Blitz. It's simple and elegant, with a little bit of brutal thrown in for good measure.
It's also pretty damn addictive. A round ends, you collect your coins (used to unlock new rocket gloves), and you're back to the start screen, just a tap away from another epic battle.
ZEZ is a simple, uncluttered experience. There are no ads, no constant pop-ups suggesting power-ups to purchase - just seven experience levels to earn and four additional rocket gloves to earn. The game could probably use a little more to unlock, frankly, but that's what updates and sequels are for. Right now it's pretty perfect.
What compels me to play ZEZ over and over again? What pulls my fingertip to its icon on an iPad screen filled with more elaborate and established games? It's the fresh take on matching puzzles. It's the sheer, brilliant simplicity. But mainly it's the cat punching the robot in the face.
- Genre: 60-Second Puzzler/Robot Puncher
- Developer: Artbit Studios
- Platform: iOS
- Price: Free