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Match-Three Game

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A Casual Video Game sub-genre of the Puzzle Game that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The object is to match three objects of similar color/shape/species to eliminate said objects from the playing field. Specific objectives vary from game to game, but include:

  • Play until you run out of time, space, or moves.
  • Match a certain amount of Object X to advance.
  • Rack up a certain amount of points to advance.

In competitive examples, where players compete against the computer or other players on a split screen, making a match may result in a few garbage blocks, which can be eliminated only by matching other objects connected to them, dropping onto the opponent's field; combos will increase the number of garbage blocks. Games may also throw other special blocks onto the field, such as power ups, obstacles (like garbage, but indestructible) and other bonuses. You can also — again, depending on the game — get bonus points and/or helpful effects by matching four or more objects.

Match Three Games came about during the heyday of the 1990s handhelds — specifically with the advent of Columns for the Sega Game Gear. With the boom in Casual Games, the genre has similarly expanded. Commonly employ Falling Blocks and Difficulty by Acceleration.

A "Merge 3" sub-genre has also grown in traction due to the popularity of Merge Dragons. In this type of game, matching three objects does not remove it from the board, but rather combine them into a higher tier version of that particular item. Games of this category often also contains elements of Construction and Management Games, as the purpose of levelling up the various objects are usually to produce better resources to (re)build a landscape, city or other types of setting. Several games also use a "merge 2" variant, where players only need two objects instead of three to level it up.


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    Falling pieces 
The player must control each piece as it falls from the top of the screen, moving it around and usually rotating it or shifting parts of the piece. A few have pieces arrive from some other direction, but the principle is the same.
  • Columns (1989; the Ur-Example)
  • Klax (1989; possibly tied for Ur-Example) - the challenge, as well as certain staged, tended to need complex formations for big points or by making other tiles fall into scoring positions.
  • Dr. Mario (match four)
  • Lumines (match a 2x2 square)
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II
  • Puyo Puyo (match four)
  • Taisen Puzzle Dama/Crazy Cross and its numerous sequels and themed Spin Offs:
    • Susume! Taisen Puzzle Dama/Let's Attack Crazy Cross
    • Twinbee Taisen Puzzle Dama
    • Tokimeki Memorial Taisen Puzzle Dama and Tokimeki Memorial 2 Taisen Puzzle Dama
    • Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-Dama
    • Chibi Maruko-chan Taisen Puzzle Dama
    • Pop'n Taisen Puzzle Dama Online
  • Tetris 2 (can best be described as Dr. Mario with Tetris pieces)
  • Yoshi (match two)
  • Critical Mass has you manually place the blocks on a cube that gradually expands, but the spirit is the same.
  • Blastris B, one of the six games sold with the Super Scope.
  • Bomberman: Panic Bomber
  • Hatris (match five)
  • Tidalis has you match disconnected blocks using "streams".
  • Hebereke's Popoon
  • Baku Baku Animal (match animals with their Stock Animal Diet)
  • Teki Paki (match five in any configuration)
  • Oh My God!
  • Kirby's Star Stacker (match two)
  • Battle Balls (match four)
  • Tecmo Stackers (match four)
  • The Mario Party 7 special minigame Stick 'n' Spin (match five)
  • Mario Party: The Top 100: The minigames classified within the Puzzler category, namely Block Star (6), Stick 'n' Spin (7), and Jewel Drop (10). The mechanics are different in each, but all of them involve connecting incoming objects or entities of the same color to make them disappear and earn points.

    Swapping pieces 
The player has to swap two or more pieces. As blocks are cleared, the field is replenished with more pieces, either immediately after they're cleared or continuously from some source.
  • 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams, which combines the mechanic with a fantasy adventure Otome Game plot.
  • Ai to Yuuki to Kashiwa Mochi (match four)
  • Akanesasu Sekai de Kimi to Utau, the Spiritual Successor of Yume100 above.
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Beglitched, where matching three gives an effect based on the items being matched, and has an objective to find and blast the opponent hiding in the grid.
  • Bejeweled (Trope Codifier, what a lot of people think is the Ur-Example). The first ever was called Shariki, developed by Russian programmer Eugene Alemzhin for DOS in 1994.
  • Big Kahuna Reef
  • BTS Island: In the SEOM
  • The Cradle Series, less commonly known as the Jewel Master series, originally developed by Awem Studio, combines this with city-building elements. It consists of:
    • Cradle of Rome (2007): The first game in the series, originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the Nintendo DS in 2008 with its original title by D3 Publisher and ported to the Wii in 2009 with the title Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt by Destineer (the European DS version also used this name). The PC and Flash versions also use the name Rome Puzzle on some versions of the game.
    • Cradle of Persia (2007): The sequel. Originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the Nintendo DS in 2012 with the title Jewel Master: Cradle of Persia by Rising Star Games.
    • Jewel Master Egypt (2009): The first game in the series without a PC version. It was released exclusively for the Nintendo DS by Storm City Games. Called Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt in Europe.
    • Jewel Master: Cradle of Athena: The second game in the series released exclusively for the Nintendo DS by Storm City Games.
    • Cradle of Rome 2 (2010): The series returns to Rome in this game. Originally released for the PC by Awem Studio, it was ported to the Nintendo DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 in 2011 and to the Nintendo 3DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 3D in 2012, both by Rising Star Games.
    • Cradle of Egypt (2011): Originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 and to the Nintendo 3DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D, both in 2012 by Rising Star Games. The number 2 was added so it wouldn't be confused with the previous game Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt, however the number 2 was retained even in the USA, where said game was just called Jewel Master: Egypt.
    • Cradle Of Empires (2014): The first game in the series to be an Allegedly Free Game and not be released on any computers or consoles (it's only on iOS and Android)
  • King Games' Saga series: Candy Crush Saga, its sequels Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga, and sister/spin-off titles, Farm Heroes Saga and Pepper Panic Saga.
  • Disney Emoji Blitz features famous Disney, Pixar, and even Star Wars characters and items in emoji form. Its main draw is that it comes with a free mobile keyboard that allows players to use the emojis in their favorite messaging apps, but the emojis have to be unlocked by playing the game itself.
  • Elemental Story
  • Experiment
  • Fishdom
  • Frozen Free Fall: This one features the characters and setting of the Disney Animated Canon film franchise Frozen.
  • Funko Pop! Blitz, based on the Funko Pop! toyline, features a variety of pop culture characters on the board.
  • Gardenscapes
  • Gems of War
  • Girls Overboard, an H-Game in which the player fishes for gems (presented as a slot machine), then matches the gems in order to make gifts for various attractive women.
  • Gunspell, which is an Urban Fantasy RPG where you match gems to get Mana (of three different colors) to power up your gear, green celtic crosses to heal, or skulls made out of precious metals to directly damage an enemy.
  • Gyromancer, which was co-developed by the same people as Bejeweled and is basically a hybrid of that and a Role-Playing Game.
  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells
  • Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
  • Hexic
  • HuniePop, a Dating Sim which uses the puzzles to advance relationships with the girls.
  • Jewel Of Atlantis
  • Jewel Quest
  • JOJO Pitter-Patter Pop (match four)
  • Knightfall: In the first game, three is the minimal amount of same-color blocks that can be eliminated. When there are no combinations left, the game lets you switch blocks around. In the second game, blocks can be eliminated in pairs and individually, but doing so consumes you AP at double and triple rates.
  • Legend of Fae, a hybrid of this and a simple side-scrolling RPG
  • Mario Party 9: King Boo's Puzzle Attack is a boss mini-game where players score points by attacking King Boo by swapping two power-up tiles around a board to make three of the same power-up in a row.
  •, an .io Game (obviously) where everyone plays simultaneously on the same board. Rotates between several different cooperative and team-competition modes, though they all track individual scores as well.
  • Maui Wowee
  • Mixels: Mix Your Neighbor plays for a variation, where matching one of each colored tribe gives a Max tile that clears vertical and horizontal, along with special "Mix" goals that give extra points if the two specified Mixels are placed next to each other. Each level has a special goal, such as a certain point amount in an allotted time or a specific amount of Mixes and Maxes obtained.
  • Megapanel
  • Mystery Match
  • Panel de Pon, a.k.a. Tetris Attack
  • Pokemon Battle Trozei, a sequel to Pokémon Trozei! but removing the falling mechanic. Also, it has nothing in common with Puzzle League, which is a simple Panel de Pon reskin.
  • Primal Legends
  • Princess Farmer
  • Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords
  • Puzzles & Survival, at least three pieces must be combined to cause damage to an opponent.
  • Sally's Quick Clips is a combination of piece-swapping Match Three and a Time Management Game.
  • Spandex Force
  • Taisen Tokkae Dama, the "swapping pieces" sister series of Taisen Puzzle Dama
  • The Treasures of Montezuma
  • Yoshi's Cookie (match rows/columns)
  • Yes Chef
  • Zoo Keeper (2003)

    Swapping and Falling 
The player has to swap two or more pieces. However, blocks also come down from the top of the screen at the same time. There is limited control in where and how falling pieces will land.
  • Meteos
  • Pokémon Trozei! (match four; a hard mode requires the player to match five)
  • Tetrisphere has the player shift around and drop pieces in order to clear them.

    Launching pieces 
The player chooses the direction or location each piece will go before it starts moving. Once a piece is in motion, it is out of the player's control.
  • 7 Wonders
  • Animal Rotary combines this with the Merging system. The player launches an animal-shaped piece into the available slots within a circular board to try and merge them into a different animal based on the Eastern Zodiac order, plus a few more. The game ends if you've filled up the board.
  • Bubbles (browser game requiring Flash).
  • Bubble Witch Saga
  • Dynomite!
  • Inside Out Thought Bubbles.
  • Luxor
  • Magical Drop
  • Magnetica
  • Money Idol Exchanger (match two or five)
  • Palamedes, with the twist that blocks can only be matched after being individually eliminated from the board
  • Plotting (match two)
  • Pop'n Pop
  • Puzzle Bobble a.k.a. Bust a Move
  • Puzzloop
  • Snood
  • Tetrisphere
  • Thrillville and its sequel have a playable Minigame on the food and drink stands called Vendor Tender where the pieces are food or drink items.
  • Zuma

    Merging pieces 
The player can freely move pieces around the board, combining them to increase the level of the item.

The mechanics in these games don't fit in any category above or are unique.
  • 2048 is a match two game where the player uses the arrows to shift gravity and make two similar tiles merge together to get a tile of double the value.
  • Similar to Klax is Audiosurf, which combined the concept with levels generated from your music files.
  • Best Fiends has players create a line through at least three of the same piece to clear them off of the board, filling up meters to unleash special attacks and depleting slug hit points. Some levels require certain amounts of a piece to be cleared to finish it.
  • Chromashift: You change the color of the gems, instead of moving the gem positions. .
  • Disney Tsum Tsum: Players drag their fingers over three or more Puni Plushies of Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars characters to clear them away.
  • Lily's Garden has you tapping on sets of two or more tiles in order to match them away. New tiles fall from above to fill the empty spaces.
  • Magic Shop: You click on three or more pieces that are adjacent to each other to collect them.
  • Magic Vines has you rotating branches of various flora instead of swapping tiles. Align three or more and poof!
  • Mario Party: Star Rush:
    • Tiles and Tribulations challenges the players to move tiles around a grid depicting different enemies to line up three in a row to earn coins. The players use a square-shaped cursor to rotate four pieces in a clockwise motion.
    • Boo's Block Party is a side mode where blocks with the numbers 1 through 4 rise from the bottom of the screen. Players can move their cursor around to select blocks and rotate them through the four numbers to match three in either a horizontal or vertical line to eliminate them and score points. The objective is to go as long as possible without letting the blocks rise to the top of the screen.
  • Puzzle & Dragons: You touch and drag a piece, and the piece can go anywhere at all, shifting other pieces behind it as it goes. Any pieces that are eliminated get filled with new pieces. You only have a few seconds to shift it around and line up three before it counts as a turn.
  • The game show Three on a Match had contestants attempting to match either prizes or images (depending on when in the run it was) on a large 4x3 game board, using money earned from answering questions to uncover boxes.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe (Noughts and Crosses) might be the simplest match-three game. Two players. The first to get three Xs or Os in a row, column, or diagonal is the winner.
  • Triple Town: the player places objects on a field, combining them to make other objects. Three grasses make a bush, three bushes make a tree, three trees make a house, and so on until the board is full.
  • Two games in the With Friends line:
    • In Matching With Friends you drag and drop pieces onto the board to match three or more of a color to be removed from the board.
    • In Gems With Friends, you drag and drop individual gems onto the board; once three or more match a color, they condense to form one gem of the next higher number.
  • Wrecking Crew '98: Each row of panels can be shifted, though unwanted panels can usually be demolished individually.

  • Bounce Out!
  • Chuzzle
  • Fruit Smash and its seasonal sequel, Trick or Treat Smash
  • Glissaria (match five)
  • Mariposa
  • Molesting the Match-3 Market
  • Puzznic (match two)
  • Tip Top
  • The Bilge Pumping and Rumble games in Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates. The Sailing game also has a match-four mechanic, but it's not the primary goal.
    • The developers at Three Rings really like these; the Foraging and Treasure Haul games are also Match Three.
  • As an April Fools' Day joke, Kongregate featured a Match One game.
  • Paris Hilton's Diamond Quest. Really.
  • Alphacat combines this with Turn-Based Combat. The more matching tiles you draw a line through, the more effective your attack is.

Alternative Title(s): Match Four Game