When a game reaches a certain level of mainstream popularity, you can pretty much count on a deluge of games trying to copy the formula. It’s tough because there are developers who genuinely take inspiration from the popular game and want to offer their own spin on the mechanics or idea in some way, but then there’s the seedier developers who just wish to ride the coattails of that popular game in order to make a few bucks, even if that means releasing a sub-par clone of it. The line between the two types of “homages” isn’t always clear, and for me it’s always been a case of “you know when you see it” if a game is being earnest in its intentions or is just a cheap cash-in.
Galaxy Mix from Seele Games is most definitely one of those well-intentioned homages. It’s a “watermelon game” which apparently is what we’re calling these now, and was originally popularized by Suika Game on Nintendo Switch which became a viral sensation in Japan around the fall of last year. It’s a perfect fit for a mobile game, and while Suika has officially come to iOS in Japan, there’s no word yet on if it will make its way out to the rest of the world or not. There is no shortage of similar games though, if you go searching for Suika Game in the App Store. Lots of those are crap… but Galaxy Mix is not.
Ok, I’ll admit the full title of the game throwing “Planet Watermelon” in there feels like a bit of an SEO grab, but it’s clear this game was a labor of actual love, and not just a love of money. As that subtitle alludes to, Galaxy Mix has you matching different types of stars and planets rather than types of fruit, but the idea is the same. Planets types come at random and you drop them from the top of the screen into the playfield. If two of the same planets touch each other they’ll combine into the next biggest size of planet. As you work towards combining into larger and larger planets, space becomes an issue, and if the playfield becomes filled beyond the top of the screen it’s game over. It’s kind of like if Threes!, Tetris, and a physics engine all had a baby.
Where Galaxy Mix tries to differentiate itself from its inspiration is with a couple of unique special abilities. You can fill up a meter by making matches, and once full you can shake your device to literally shake up all the planets in the playfield. This can help you get unstuck from your current situation and you’ll likely make a couple of extra matches while you’re at it. The other power-up is a bomb that you can drop that will eliminate one planet from the playfield, which similarly can help whatever current situation you happen to be in. Besides those two elements all the broad strokes in Galaxy Mix seem to be the same as Suika. Except maybe achieving this game’s version of a watermelon, which in planet terms is a black hole, which the developer say only 0.1% of players can achieve.
Oh! There is one other really unique feature to Galaxy Mix, and that’s that it can be played on an Apple Watch. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually quite playable. You rotate the dial to set your dropper position and tap the screen to drop your planet. The playfield is obviously scaled down, but dang it I’m surprised at how well the experience translates to the tiny Apple Watch screen and how fun it can be if you happen to not have your phone around and need a watermelon game fix. One quirk is that on Apple Watch you can actually wrap around the screen with your dropper, which takes some getting used to, but the use of the crown for aiming your drop is actually incredibly precise, and I love that it will auto-save your progress in the middle of a game so you can always pop back into it easily if you get distracted.
If you’re jonesing for a Suika game on your phone and the browser version isn’t cutting it for you, or you don’t have the ability to buy the iOS version from the Japanese App Store, I think Galaxy Mix will do well to scratch the itch for you. You might even come to find you prefer it to the real thing with its cool special abilities and Apple Watch version. There’s also a ton of personality in its cute pixel art planet types and their animations, and online leaderboards with daily, weekly, and all time lists adds a little friendly competition to the mix. Plus no ads, IAP, or data collection. Not a bad haul for just a buck, which is likely why the folks in our forums have taken so kindly to this one.