Games being ported to iOS is nothing new, but games being ported over from the Playdate--a tiny handheld featuring a crank on the side of it--is not something I necessarily expected. Generations from Scenic Route Software is exactly that, and the game itself is is a perfectly fine and meditative matching game.
Generations is a puzzle game that takes place in a cozy living room setting. Above the couch is a 6x3 grid that you place icons that appear on the side tables onto. Your goal is to match these icons to form new ones while reducing space on the grid and progressing like that until you run out of room to make matches or place new icons.
Mostly, the icons you are placing on the grid are people of various ages, though the starting icons tend to be a stork with a parcel that matching three (or more) of creates a baby icon. Each icon when matched "ages up" to become a slightly older version of the people on the icons that were matched and if you match three or more of the oldest icons together they disappear off the grid and age up every icon remaining on the grid.
Life's little moments
There's not a whole lot more to Generations than this basic matching gameplay, but there are a bunch of little details that make the game both more challenging and charming. From a puzzle design standpoint, the matching in Generations has a few key rules you have to keep in mind at all times. Icons can only match if they are touching along orthogonal sides and condense into the new icon at the location of square used to complete the match, for example. The other key principle is the fact that you can't place icons anywhere you want on the grid. You can only place icons next to icons that have already been placed.
Outside of the game rules themselves, Generations has a few nice touches that give it a bit more life than it might otherwise have. The living room shows signs of life (including a cat you can pet), there are fun achievements to discover, and there are special icons you can unlock after learning some of the hidden rules around getting icons to appear on more than one of the side tables.
Perfect from Playdate
In terms of the actual port job, the iOS version of Generations plays perfectly, so much so that I can't tell how the original Playdate version is supposed to play. The touch controls are about as intuitive as you can get, and all of the art looks totally natural despite the original game not having color. All told, if no one had told me this was a game on a different platform I would have assumed this was a game developed specifically for iOS.
That said, Generations isn't exactly a deeply involved puzzle game. You can compete to beat your personal best or against others on the leaderboards, but otherwise there aren't additional modes or unlocks to uncover here. I prefer that to having a game laden with in-app purchases, currencies, or meaningless upgrade mechanics, obviously, but at the same time Generations can feel a little threadbare at times.
The bottom line
It's clear that Generations is made with a lot of love, and that translates into this beautifully colorized iOS version. It's a fun puzzle game, but it is a very modest package. A few added touches certainly add to its appeal, but I wouldn't bank on Generations holding your attention for more than sporadic play.