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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.


    open/close all folders 

    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 and its numerous sequels and themed Spin Offs:
    • Susume! Taisen Puzzle Dama
    • 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)

    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.

     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.

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, which uses a relatively unique game mechanic, in that you change the color of the gems, instead of moving the gem positions. [1].
  • Disney Tsum Tsum: Players drag their fingers over three or more Puni Plushies of Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars characters to clear them away.
  • Magic Vines has you rotating branches of various flora instead of swapping tiles. Align three or more and poof!
  • 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 X's or O's 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


Example of: