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Rating: 4.2/5 (215 votes)
Comments (34) | Views (17,848)

MarcusCombineOn the surface, Combine, by Fafv, seems to be just another in a long line of Dr. Mario clones in the match-3 genre. Rotate and drop dual-colored pieces into a well. Join 3 or more balls of the same color, and they disappear. Nothing remarkable about it; been there, done that. But if you pass Combine over, you will be missing a unique game.

The difference is in what happens when you make matches. Instead of simply disappearing, the match will leave behind a ball of a different color. Eh? Well, take a glance at the left side of the board. You will notice a rainbow-like scale, with a small arrow pointing to one of the colored balls. This is your current level.

How, exactly, are you supposed to advance levels? This is where the combinations come in. You start out on the yellow level, meaning the only colors that can drop are green and yellow. Matching three green balls makes a yellow ball, and matching three yellow balls leaves behind an orange ball. Once you finally match three orange balls, you move up to the orange level, and now orange balls can drop along with yellow and green, and your next goal is to make a red match. Ultimately, you'll move all the way up the rainbow of colors to white.

Of course, the higher the level, the more colors you are juggling, and the harder it is to make the next set of matches. The fact that you always leave behind a ball also adds to the difficulty, since you are never clearing away a space completely. Later levels require serious strategy, and make this a truly clever little game.

Analysis: We were all pretty much ready to pass on Combine, but then we got down to actually playing through the game, and realized that the twist here really changes its dynamics. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to breeze through the first couple of levels. But once you get about three-quarters up the scale, you'll really start having problems creating matches and keeping the well empty enough to continue.

The graphic presentation is fairly simple. Nice, vibrant colors for the balls, but nothing too special. Which, in a way, is a good thing, because nothing detracts from the unique gameplay. On the flip side, it might keep people from giving the title a spin. I'm not one for "graphics for graphics' sake," but if they draw people in, haven't they served a higher purpose? Sound is very perky and upbeat. Sort of like that person that is terminally happy, even at ungodly hours of the AM. Can get a little annoying after a while, but not bad.

Combine is a deceptively deep puzzler that deserves a second look. Once you get into the game, you will be hooked, trying to make that last couple of levels on the scale. Definitely give it a chance.

Play Combine


Very fun! How do I know where the new ball is going to appear when I clear a set? So far, it seems to be fairly intelligent and has gone in the "right" place for me, but I haven't really figured out the logic behind it, if there is any.


Nice game! Keith, it's explained in the rules: The new ball appears where the lowest of the old balls was, and if there's more than one ball tied for lowest it appears in the leftmost one of those.

I have only one tiny complaint: the pink and purple balls aren't as easy to tell apart as the rest. Maybe make one of them brown?

The_Corruptor March 24, 2009 3:17 PM

This is very much the same as MotionTwin's Natural Chemist game, which is also very good - but you get to collect ingredients, and use them outside of the game. Sure, there's only limited plays per day for free, but I think that is the inspiration for this fun little game.

JohnnyCaps March 24, 2009 3:48 PM

Very cool. I have found it helpful to try and keep the "higher tiered" colors to the left side and the lower ones to the right (but using good judgment, sometimes its better to not follow this rule). This way, I've found it easier to keep the board clean, while organizing the orbs that will allow me to gain levels in one general area (and pretty much neglecting the others, except when I get two of the same lower-leveled ones to help clear the board on the right in case I need the room.)

This probably doesn't make sense to anyone but me.


Great find, Marcus! I got all the way to making a couple of light blues on my third try, but then I reached the top. Does anybody have black or white?


@ Matt,
I think the pink and purple are pretty distinct. If you're having problems telling them apart it might be the color balancing on your monitor or just the way you see colors (for instance, I have problems in the cyan/blue range). Everyone's eyes are different, after all. :)

Schmorgluck March 24, 2009 7:24 PM

A well done clone of OpenAlchemist.


I can pretty consistently get a single white ball, but I would love to know what happens when you get three. Anybody willing to give us a spoiler?

Schmorgluck March 24, 2009 7:41 PM

...which, to be fair, is itself a clone of the flash game Alchemist.

Mojoqmeyvam March 24, 2009 9:40 PM

Attack with decay:
I have your answer about 3 white balls.

3 white balls disappear. I don't remember if white balls start dropping once you make one set disappear; I didn't live long afterwards. But that's what happens. I was hoping it would be a rainbow ball, and no more upgrades, but that's the way they've set up the game.


I really enjoyed playing this gentle connect three game. The color twist was a nice addition and the music was glorious! I'm relaxed...how unusual.


Interesting and pretty strategy-heavy. I don't know if I could do this every day. I got 3 white balls twice before dying by following a simple strategy most of the time (I'm really sick so thinking more than 2 steps ahead is pretty much beyond me)

whenever possible, I stacked low colours on top of the colours higher ranked. eg. if I have a pink ball and I get a red-orange, stack the red orange on there! sure it sometimes makes you wish you left stuff open, but over all it got me pretty far...

And keeping in mind that the left-most or lower-most ball will stay was VERY useful.
hey, actually I just realized I am at the top of the rankings. Score one for the cold virus...

loversrequiem March 25, 2009 3:08 PM

woah, extremly addictive! @.@ really nice game, won't let me sleep until i got the white balls. gaah.


Another strategy tip that I think is helpful:

Give higher priority to the low-colored balls. For example, if you have the opportunity to clear a green set or a yellow set, it's often best to clear the green. Obviously, you still want to clear the most you can with one move, so go for the higher-colored ball if it will set off a combo.


Heh... yeah, this is pretty clearly based on MotionTwin's naturalchemist. I still prefer naturalchemist, but this is also quite good.


Xi, you're probably right about each person's eyes being individual in that way. One thing that I realized was throwing me off is that the screen washes from lighter to darker blue, which creates contrast effects between the same color at the top of the screen and on the grid. Only once has color confusion actually created a problem for me, though, and it needs a lot of colors for deep enough gameplay! (That is to say, can't ever get three white dots together... if I could do that I could stop playing... aaaaah....)


Not trying to... Well yes I am trying to brag! I got to the black on my first try and have since been able to get to where you are clearing away the balls (after the top color they disappear. Has anyone cleared board completely? Is is possible or am I just kidding myself?


the first time i played i managed to get up to light blue and that was that. however by my third try i managed to get to black and then a little little white. Now i can get white every single time and have managed to get three in a row.
It seems to me tho that my score ends up being pretty random every time i play. Sometimes i get about 70 000 and the next its 100 000. Does anyone have any tips as to how to conserve the most space?

jammysnowman January 25, 2010 11:32 PM

Very addicting! I've gotten to the black balls, but not the white, yet! Someone asked earlier if anyone has cleared the board completely.It would be nice to know or if it is even possible??


Not sure it's possible to clear the board, but I have cleared about 6 sets of white balls during a game so I have to think it's possible. High score is around 135,000...very fun but frustrating having to start over from the beginning each time.

Nick Lumb February 3, 2010 3:50 PM

My wife and I have got hooked on Combine when we don't normally play computer games. We normally get scores of 70,000 to an all time best of 165,000 but see best scores on the Mindjolt site of 275,000.
Are there strategies beyond those mentioned so far that will get you well above 100,000 on a reliable basis or are there just some very persistent players out there?


This game could move a bit faster - I don't need the animation of exploding balls. Each time I start over I have several minutes of boredom to contend with -- which I guess isn't any different in Tetris...


Your strategy makes perfect sense to me :)
I've been using the same strategy as well as stacking the colours as someone else suggested... still I can't get my score above 100k... my highest is a little over 106k... but how do those that get over 200k and more do it??
Are there some other strategies anyone would be willing to share??

Anonymous May 16, 2010 11:39 PM

This is the one game I play and what I find frustrating is that I do not know what balls come next. My top score is 120 000ish but there are time when I stick to the tios, but I then run out of space to get the right balls to trigger off the change of colours - AGH.


185k all time score here

Something to consider... keep two different sections open to clear balls. One section far right and one section far left.

My keeping two lines open you double your score. Also learn your colors and combo them beautifully and well thought out.

Dont get caught up waiting for one specific piece though..

Hope it helps!

Anonymous July 21, 2010 5:32 PM

Another little tip:

Example: you have two yellows stacked up next to two greens stacked up. You get another yellow/green set. If you drop it straight down on top of the yellow and green stacks, you will get a yellow and an orange. Instead, switch it so the green is on bottom and yellow on top. Then, the green set will turn yellow and your new yellow will drop in to make a set of 4 yellows. All that's left is an orange ball, instead of an orange and a yellow.

Do this anytime you have two sets of two consecutive tiers. (Granted, doesn't happen real often, but can help!)


Anyone know if there is rhyme or reason to the colors of the two ball that appear at the top? Because right now, they seem to constantly be exactly what I DON'T need.


I can consistently get into the 70000 range, but haven't managed above that. I have only gotten a few whites before, and am deeply wondering if there is a well thought out planned strategy to this, or if you just know your colors and think on the spot. Let me know what you guys think. and are there any 200k players here???


FINALLY!!! I connected 3 white balls. I feel like this game has consumed all my Facebook time, but well worth the effort. My scoring hasn't been over the top though. I wonder how so many listed below the game have hit their scores? Anyone know? My top score is around 80-90K and only about 65K when I combined the 3 white balls. Hmmm... I'm at a loss to explain how their scores are so high. I guess I have a ways to go. Good luck everyone!!

mtgrandmamo November 15, 2010 7:23 PM

I love this game! Addictive! I have reviewed all the notes posted so far and have tried every type of strategy explained. I believe the balls coming down are random, which is part of the intrigue of the game. I do really good until getting a green one combined with say a dark blue one coming down together. However, I will keep playing. I do have a facebook friend who for two straight weeks has attained scores over 200,000. My highest is 183,000 range but cannot seem to get up there again. She will not give any tips... dog gone it!!


Just went looking for this game again, and something seems to have happened to the HTML in the review -- just sending a batsignal out to the editors about this.

[Thanks for that! I don't know what happened, but it's fixed now. I also hosted the game while I was at it. :) Cheers, matt! -Jay]

ena browne February 12, 2012 4:32 PM

Does anybody know why you can sometimes get a higher score when only reaching the black ball than other times when you get to the white. Even zapping three whites doesn't always get you a good score!


Hi,my highest score is 207280pts. I make a lot of combo's and that seems to bring the score up. Thanks for the tips, they were helpful! :)

jacqsprat July 19, 2012 12:36 AM

to answer the question regarding matching 3 whites. No new ball appears. just leaves a hole.


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