The last thing anyone needs is another Candy Crush Saga-style connect-3 game. But while UFO Dad thankfully distinguishes itself by adding new gameplay elements — and by not having you connect three of the same gems or food items, again — its uniqueness isn’t enough to make this as addicting as, well, other Candy Crush Saga-style connect-3 games.
Made by Edit Mode for the PlayStation Vita and Android phones with the PS Mobile app, UFO Dad has some hungry aliens trying to steal burgers from a suburban backyard BBQ. So it’s up to dad and his trusty spatula to save the day. Or at least lunch.
To avoid having your burgers and yourself abducted by aliens, you have to clear the area by breaking the regular colored blocks with your spatula, and by connecting three or more of the same colored blocks with burgers on them. To do this, you not only have to break bricks that are in the way, but have to smack burger blocks into place as well.
What’s interesting is that when you do get three burger blocks of the same color together, they actually take a whole turn to disappear, which gives you the opportunity to move others next to them.
Further adding a wrinkle to the proceedings is that, unlike a lot of these games, this world has selective gravity, which causes blocks to fall, but not right away. In fact, if the block is made of rock, as some of them are, they don’t move at all, they just hang the way bricks don’t.
UFO Dad also rewards you for connecting three or more burger blocks by filling a meter labeled “Power” that, when stuffed, engages your character’s special powers. If you’re playing as the titular father figure, for instance, a full “Power” meter will slow down the amount of time between turns, thus letting you move more blocks into place, until the meter is drained.
As interesting as all of this may make UFO Dad sound, though, it gets old rather quick. While this may do things very differently than other connect-3 style games, it doesn’t have a lot of variety once it gets going. Even when it does add new elements — such as BBQ grills that, when they fall, explode and take out any one and any thing in a one space radius — they don’t end up adding all that much.
The same can also be said for the other playable members of the family, who you unlock as you progress. While all four supposedly have different levels of skill when it comes to jumping, speed, and strength, they all kind of feel the same.
It also doesn’t help that UFO Dad is rather unforgiving at times. You only have one life to live, and if you give it up — say, if you get crushed by a falling brick or fried by a falling BBQ grill — that’s it, you’re out. (The exception to this is if you play as the son, who has a beanie that lets him take a blow to the head without dying. Though why the whole family aren’t wearing hats is beyond me.)
There’s also a lack of urgency to UFO Dad since you can always stop yourself from being pushed off the top of the screen, and thus into the ship, by whacking all the non-burger blocks. Sure, new rows of blocks appear at the bottom all the time, but since you can get rid of any and all colored blocks quickly and easily, there’s never any real danger of being abducted if you dawdle.
You also, oddly, can’t use the left thumbstick to move, only the D-pad. Which isn’t that big of a deal, just something you have to get used to. It’s just that, because using the thumbstick is so intuitive, you’ll have to get used to only using the D-pad whenever you start playing the game again after taking a break to get a snack or watch a rerun of Law & Order: SVU. Or maybe that’s just me.
Oh, and do yourself a favor: turn off the music. It doesn’t get in the way or anything, it’s just not that good.
Even with all of its issues, UFO Dad is fun for a little while. And maybe longer if you really like connect-3 games and are tired of moving rocks and candy around. It’s just too bad that all of the new stuff it adds comes right at the beginning and not as you progress through the game. Which is why, after a while, you’ll stop caring whether dad saves the burgers or not.