You wouldn't think it, but cute animals face a lot of peril in Flash games. Sometimes they're under suicidal pressure from humans. Other times, like in Biogems from Mochi Games, adorable little creatures are locked in some kind of internecine conflict... in space. And it's going to take all your match-3, turn-based battling skills to defend your puppy, kitty or bunny against bears, snakes, and bugs. All of which are also pretty cute, to be honest, but they're the designated villains here.
The match-3-as-battle method has really come into its own lately, and Biogems takes it a little bit further in terms of strategy. Both you and the dueled enemy use the same board to make your matches, so in addition to considering what the best combination is for you, you also want to avoid giving your opponent opportunities. You click on a gem and then click on another adjacent gem to swap it. Some gems attack, others heal, restore energy, up defense, load a counterattack, or fill your rage meter. Once your rage meter is fully charged, you unleash an extra powerful attack. Any row of 3 or more grants you some attack or benefit, 4 or more gives you an extra turn, and 5 or more gives you a rainbow gem, which you can swap with any adjacent gem to claim all gems of that type on the board. Some gems have shiny, metallic borders, and making chains with those gems grants you extra rubies, which you use between matches to upgrade your character.
Analysis: In addition to the strategic consideration of your opponent's next turn, the ability to shield or load a counterattack adds an additional dimension for the budding Sun Tzu of gem-swapping. If you're fully shielded and have a counterattack ready, your opponent's attack can actually be turned against him without you taking any damage. However, if your opponent doesn't attack, the shield and counterattack go away when your turn begins again, thus making it a wasted effort. Luck plays a large part in the game, as it does in any match-3 game, but it requires a keen eye to grab those lucky opportunities while the timer is counting down. The AI of the opponent is on the dim side and it's often possible to predict that he will go for the three special attack gems rather than the five energy gems.
You proceed from opponent to opponent until you reach the final boss. You can use MochiCoins to buy rubies to upgrade yourself, but that really isn't necessary, as you get to keep any rubies you earn in a lost match, and you can play previous opponents for even more rubies if you want to. This makes the game's microtransactions more of a shortcut cheat for impatient players than something that the game feels incomplete without. The high energy electronic soundtrack and effects keep you pumped up even through a few defeats, anyway. The only mystery is why these cuddly astro-pets feel the need to wail on each other anyway. If snuggly little kittens can't get along with giant squids, is there hope for the rest of us?