REVIEW – Swap This! (Nintendo Switch)

Swap This! is a color-matching puzzle game exclusively available for Nintendo Switch. It is developed and published by Two Tribes, the same company behind games like Toki Tori, RIVE, EDGE, and Swords & Soldiers. While it might not be the best game on the Switch, at its low price of $1.19 in the US, it’s a must-buy for any puzzle fan.

The main concept has you clearing screens by matching colored blocks, in order to free the creatures. You can swap blocks by tapping or selecting two different ones. When you have more than four blocks of the same color connecting, they will free those creatures. There is a slight delay in freeing them, though, so if you are quick enough, you can keep adding to it. This means that you might start with four or five, but if you keep swapping to add more of the same color to that connection, you could have nine, ten, or more. As with many other color-matching puzzles, there are obstacles that will prevent you from doing whatever you want. In this game, sea urchins fill that role. You cannot swap them, so you’ll need to work around them or destroy them to complete each stage or get the highest score.

The game contains four modes:

  • Minute Match: Score as many points as possible before the timer runs out.
  • Wave Mode: Free ever-larger waves of creatures within the time limit.
  • Fish Fight: Free creatures to keep the large enemy fish down.
  • Puzzles: Complete each puzzle in the fewest amount of moves.

(Feel free to check out my livestream of the first time I played Swap This! to better understand each of these modes and see how they play.)

A nice touch was being able to compete against others by posting your high scores online. This not only shows me where I stand in the competition, but it also drove me to play more. I often found myself thinking that I can move up in the standings if I just play one more round. So even though there are not a huge number of modes, this little touch greatly helped the replay value.

While you can play Swap This! with a Joy-Con pointed at the screen (similar to how the Wii Remotes worked, but without a sensor bar), it is best played on the touchscreen in handheld mode as it allows you to move much faster by using your finger on the screen. This is significant, because other than Puzzle mode, you are constantly fighting against the time in one way or another. Everything is incredibly responsive, though, and I never felt frustrated with the controls or mechanics. Honestly, I was surprised how well the Joy-Cons worked in docked mode on the TV. It just slowed me down.

There are also several power-ups you can unlock as you play through the game, which were helpful and also changed up the gameplay enough to keep it from being stale. One is a Treasure Chest, which allows you to free surrounding creatures when double-tapped. It can be used to cut off a section of the playfield and also destroy sea urchins. Power-ups can also be swapped, which means you can take them where it will most benefit you before using them. Mastering the power-ups is definitely a way to achieve higher scores.

The graphics, music, and sound effects are all fun but nothing to brag about. Sometimes the music selection of simple puzzle games can be quite annoying, but these songs never got to that point. Everything fit well and seemed to flow together.

As far as negatives, there are only a few that stand out to me. It is quite limited, but it also does not cost that much, so I’m not sure I have much room to complain. Also there could be a bit more instruction to help players learn the gameplay basics. I easily picked it up after playing for a bit, but a couple more instruction screens could have quickened that process.

While it does have a few small downfalls, Swap This! is an inexpensive puzzler that is sure to keep you entertained and challenged both on the go and on your TV.

Swap This! is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Developer/Publisher: Two Tribes
Code provided by Two Tribes for press and review purposes.