Puzzle games can be a funny breed, and trying to balance the cognitive elements along with the absorbing visuals, nice sound and decent playability can be a challenge in itself.
Originality is also a key, and it appears, during our afternoon's play anyway, that Liqua Pop delivers - despite its match-3 leanings.
Liqua Pop (iPhone)
We're calling it a match-3 game, but in fact you have to match 4 of your given pieces - which in this case take the form of droplets. The idea is to help get a toad to the top of a stem that is situated on the left side of the screen, and you do this by pulling together droplets of the same colour as they fall, in order to make a bigger one. Once the mega-droplets have been formed they will then burst aiding Toadie's journey to the top (to be honest it looks more like a frog, so be sure to let us know your thoughts on the frog/toad debate in the comments below).
Whilst you actively pull the different coloured droplets together, you'll get a choice of whether to burst them yourself by shaking your iDevice, or allowing a timer that appears within the droplet to countdown before it bursts automatically. There are also a variety of bugs to unlock which hold different attributes and are designed to either aid or scupper your progress.
And it is these core elements of dragging, timing and choosing the right bug to unleash which culminate to make Liqua Pop a rather addictive game; overturning our initial fears of a rather messy gameplay experience. Get your technique down - we found forming an imaginary line with your finger between droplets the best way - and it's wholly rewarding.
Multipliers are produced by bursting droplets at the same time and likewise, bigger scores can be gained by leaving bursts to the last minute; although waiting too long can jeopardise your game as a full screen means game over.
However, it's the graphics and sound that really bring the game to life enhancing the experience no-end. Chirps, tweets and buzzes are imitated well, and on-screen textures and colours are well produced giving a real quality feel.
The only downside was the rather contradictory emotional state that the game induced, caused by the juxtaposition of relaxing animal noises and often frenetic gameplay. It's also pricey at £1.19, although you can see where the money's gone, but if you enjoy a bit of puzzling on your iPhone you won't go too far wrong downloading Liqua Pop.