Developer King has introduced its latest app: Animal Rescue Saga. Could this be the title to topple the hugely popular Candy Crush Saga? Pocket-lint got our hands on a pre-release version of the mobile app ahead of launch at this year's E3 conference in Los Angeles, California.
Don't worry, Rolf Harris isn't going to pop up from around the corner (okay, we know, that was Animal Hospital). Pet Rescue Saga, as its name suggests, is about rescuing those fluffy loveable things. Well, sort of. The only "pets" we've seen in our hands-on demo of the game so far are three little piggies - but furry pups, birds and even fish also appear later down the line.
With similar puzzle element put in play as in Candy Crush, Pet Rescue Saga looks already to have a winning formula: Match groups of same-colour blocks with a single tap in order to destroy them and open up additional paths of play. It's not about matching simple rows of three, four or more though - whole sections of touching blocks can be erradicated.
There are various goals in different levels: whether it's about saving the pets by bringing them down to the bottom of the screen; clearing a certain percentage of blocks from a level; beating the countdown clock and so on.
You'll need to tap away in a thought-out order in order to clear the board completely and get those high scores, as fixed platforms and blocks which can't be destroyed make the game that bit tricker than it sounds. If it all goes a bit wrong then there's a special single-use rocket item which appears to the bottom right and can clear a complete row to open up the objective that bit more.
At launch Pet Rescue Saga will have 72 free-to-play levels which can be visualised via a wonderfully illustrated map - it's almost a like Alice In Wonderland meets Terry Pratchet if the giant cats in hats and dogs sitting on houses are anything to go by.
King's ongoing business model will remain, however, meaning those micro payment purchases will be dangled like carrots in a bid to tempt you to part with the cash to acquire the tools to advance through the levels. Additional levels will also continue to appear in app updates in order to keep you playing on and on. It's not essential to purchase anything, however, as each level within the game can be completed for free - you just need skill, patience and possibly a little luck from time to time.
It all looks very cutesy and accessible from what we've seen, yet maintains gameplay that's taxing enough to keep those fingers tapping away time and time again to progress further. As per Candy Crush, Pet Rescue Saga also includes lives that refresh over time - so you can't play it forever, as addictive as it may come to be.
Pet Rescue Saga is free to download and is available right now. Go check out the iOS and Android versions.