Match Panic

App of the Day: Match Panic

We live in a time where most games are delighted to hand out virtual tchotchkes for the lowliest accomplishments. Pressed start to continue? Here, have a Trophy! Viewed the tutorial? 20 Gamerpoints for you! It's an ego massage for the easily disheartened: reward the player to keep them from switching off. All of which makes Match Panic something of an anomaly; it's not often you'll find a game purpose-built to make its users feel very stupid indeed.

Of course, to make players feel really stupid, you first need to make them feel smart. Match Panic's opening stage is artfully constructed to induce maximum overconfidence. You have a pixel art character (a panda, say) on the left of the screen and one on the right (a happy cloud, perhaps) with a scrolling column in the middle. The object is to tap left or right to match the central image to those on either side. Rattle through the whole stack within the allotted time and you'll move on to the next stage.

At first, it seems laughably easy. Even when Match Panic springs its first surprise by putting two images on one side you'll comfortably be able to cope after a split second's adjustment. Several stages later, when you're dealing with three pictures on each side, your thought processes will have stuttered to a near-standstill, leaving your thumbs hovering uselessly above the screen.

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