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Merry Poppings - Random singing not included.

I REALLY thought that with a name like, "Merry Poppings," Slingo would make some sort of tie to Mary Poppins. Alas, they went with a carnival theme. (No idea why.)

Merry Poppings is a match-3 game with balloons. This means that as you pop balloons, the remaining balloons will float UP. If you've only played Bejeweled the whole up-instead-of-down may be a little disorienting. ^_^

There are two different ways to play Merry Poppings.
  1. On the Midway ~ Survive 10 increasingly difficult levels and you win!
  2. The Sideshow ~ You start with 100 moves and see how long you can play. Timed or untimed modes available.
For some odd reason Slingo is very secretive about the rules. You have to start playing the game in order to find them at all! And there are a LOT of things they don't even explain.

Aren't you glad you have me to help? ^_^

I'm going to focus on On the Midway, because it lays out the special balloons one at a time. Notes for The Sideshow will be at the end.

On the Midway

Level 1: We begin! This is where we get the *basic* rules.

Is that a rat or a dog?

Note that you can move balloons out of the side columns if need be. To be honest, I never found that to be terribly useful, but I did try it out a few times.

In this screen your goal is shown at the bottom. For level 1 you need to pop 80 balloons. For ALL ten levels you will have only 20 moves to accomplish your goal. (At level 10 you need to pop 400 balloons!)

This may seem impossible, but it isn't. For any move you make you will lose 1 move. But you can get moves back in the following ways.
  • Make a match of 3 = +1 move
  • Make a match of 4 or more = +2 moves
  • Make a combo = +1 move for each chain in the combo
I had plenty of moves for the first 6 levels. I rarely had to "waste" a move by getting a balloon in place for a match 3.

Level 2: And now things start getting more complicated.

Stoppers act like regular balloons in that you can switch them and they float upwards. They aren't true "stoppers," really. More like "minor annoyances."

Getting them in a row/column usually takes more moves than it's worth, so just work around them. It was only at level 9 that I actually had enough on the board to easily make columns out of. When you remove a line of stoppers you earn +3 moves, so it's worth the trouble if you need 3 or fewer moves to complete a line.

Level 3: Multipliers!

Unfortunately, multipliers aren't nearly as exciting as they sound. You get 100 points per match of 3, so a 2x multiplier (the most common one) gets you 200 points. Weeeeeee. I couldn't tell how they affected combo scoring because I never got a multiplier IN a combo. *Sigh*

I also never saw a 10x. Best I saw was 5x.

Can you tell I'm not impressed by them? Anywho, enjoy this level while you can because it has the most multipliers in it.

Level 4: Bonus moves!

 Arf?? Seriously?

As previously mentioned, you probably will have an over-abundance of moves until you reach level 7+. Therefore, you'll find the majority of  bonus moves balloons in levels 4 thru 6. You can't carry over the extra moves from one level to the next, but you WILL get bonus points for each move left at the end of the level.
Level 5: Fire!

Is that a flaming pyramid??

I like how the balloons are filled with "propane and propane accessories." Are the accessories matchsticks? Did they include that line to avoid getting messages from propane fanatics, worried that people will think propane can self-ignite?

We may never know.

But the propane balloon is probably my favorite. ^_^ It's really fun to make a match and see a little fireball shoot through the column. Ka-pow!! And just so you know, they WILL burn through stoppers (yay!!) and multipliers (booo!). So uh, look before you light.

Level 6: More special balloons.

Sounds like the illusion balloons are hard to spot, right? And really, really rare?

I spy with my little eye...

The idea of being able to transport a specific ballon to anywhere you want is kinda neat. But in reality, I never used the feature. It was much easier just to match them with nearby balloons. Just look at that picture. Out of the 4 illusion balloons out there, only ONE can't be immediately matched up.

This would be a great feature in the later levels, but of course then they are few and far between.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Moving the illusion ballon at all will use up it's special power.

Level 7: Pop! (Isn't that the point?)

Aww... poor sad balloon, all grey and broken. :(

In this game a "large chunk" equals 2-3 balloons popping randomly around the board. It can be Very Good or Very Bad. Just keep an eye out on any combos you're trying to build.

Level 8: Color-wonder

We made tie-dye shirts in science. Best class ever!

The tie-dye icon will appear over a regular balloon, just like the illusion or propane symbol. If you want to make the balloon be another color you have to double click it and it will change. Not the right color? Double click it again. Still not the right color? Double click it again.

The two times I used this feature, I accidentally clicked past the color I wanted. Doh.

While I'm not sure why they didn't just *make* the balloon apply for all colors, the clicking actually helped me see some matches that I would have missed. So I can't thumb my nose at the tie-dye balloon too much. ^_^

Level 9: Eek!!!

Half-gassed balloon doesn't try hard enough.

Omg, what?? Pop a half-gassed balloon and you LOSE a move for each balloon popped?? So like, 3 moves erased for a match-3? That's insane!!!


I was so terrified of this balloon that I didn't pop ANY of them the first time I played. By level 9 I was hoarding my moves, and the thought of losing a bunch of them at once was scary!!

Then I started writing this review up, and realized that uh... I didn't have a good idea of what the balloon actually did. Which meant I had to play up to level 9 again. Dangit.

It turns out that this balloon really isn't scary at all. If you make a match with it you just don't earn any moves back. So basically it's a "wasted" move, except that it will probably clear some much-needed space. I have no idea what they mean by "lose a move for each balloon popped," cuz nothing like that happened to me.

Level 10: *Cue triumphant music*

Wow... that looks really cool!!! I wonder what happens when you get those balloons together!

Seriously. What happens? I reached level 10 twice and I never got these special balloons together. I don't *think* they have to be the same color because I never had a positive and negative balloon of the same color on the board at the same time. These balloons are freakin' rare

Oh, and here is a peek at level 10. It seems they just decided to throw a bunch of stoppers at the board and call it a night.

Stop! In the naaaaame of luuuuuv!

I'd made one move on that board. (It was a match 4.) Remember, on the 10th level you have to pop 400 balloons! The first time I played (and was still avoiding the half-gassed balloons) it took me 24 minutes to complete level 10. The second time I played it took me 16 minutes. It's tough!

Once you finish level 10 you can sit back and enjoy the rain of Slingo coins!


The Sideshow

This is basically one long level for you to play with. "Special" balloons are included, but they are uncommon. I played both timed and untimed, and they each have their good sides.

Pros: Nice, leisurely pace. Good for starting out and learning the balloons.
Cons: I got bored.

Pros: No boredom here! The ticking clock keeps you on your toes.
Cons: COMMERCIAL BREAKS BAD!!! The commercials aren't a problem in untimed or On the Midway, but here? It's terrible! And any bonus time you had on the clock is gone, so you have to make matches quickly until you have banked time again.

Tips and Tricks
  • Unless you're playing the timed version of the slideshow, slow down! There is NO undo button, so look before you move! 
  • If you want to make a lot of accidental combos, make matches near the top of the board. When the balloons float up they will automatically pop if they make a match 3 or more.
  • If you want to be careful, make matches near the bottom of the board. This will keep you from moving too many balloons too fast and accidentally messing up a match.
  • I like bulleted lists! ^_^

Final Rating

This game has a lot of potential. But there are *so* many special balloons that they end up being underutilized. I enjoyed the challenge that lvls 9 and 10 provided, but it took so long to get there that I was starting to get tired of the game. It would be nice if you could just pick what level you want to start with.

But as it is right now? I'd say it's 3 out of 5 stars. The good aspects balance out the bad, and it's a pretty fun game overall. ^_^

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