Review: Spooky Bonus

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Match 3
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2015
Review Published On: October 28th, 2018
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam, Grey Alien Games

Save System:

Your progress is automatically saved when you leave a level or exit the game. While the "relaxed" game mode does not have a time limit (and thus has no reason to be paused), you can pause the game in either mode by bringing up the pause menu with ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The most you'll see here is some ghosts, witches, and other things relating to Halloween. Since this game is aimed at young children, everything is portrayed in a child-friendly manner.

That said, one of the powerups is a tarot card. Using this item is optional, and all it does is shuffle the tiles in the current puzzle.


[view screenshot]
Rumors and gossip

[view screenshot]
A look at a typical level

[view screenshot]
A nice and spooky house

Game Overview

As the name implies, Spooky Bonus is themed around Halloween. Unlike a lot of games out there, it's also aimed at younger children. This means that nothing will get too scary or dark, and things are kept relatively simple. For example, the game's story has you investigating some strange events that are happening in "Old Town".

The game itself is pretty much what you'd expect from a Match 3 title. Every level consists of a grid with many different tiles scattered on it, and you clear these tiles by lining them up in groups of three or more. Each level, you're also given several specific goals. These usually include clearing a given number of a certain tile or clearing the golden background from the grid. Later on, you'll also need to drop special skull tiles off the grid and deal with obstacles like stones or cobwebs.

As you progress, you'll earn gold and occasionally find Halloween decorations. These can be placed around your in-game home, and in addition to making it look more festive, having these decorations in place also unlocks new features and powerups. As for the gold you collect, it's mainly used to purchase more decorations from the local curiosity shop.

If you're a fan of Match 3s or enjoy all things Spooky, this game will be right up your alley.

Points of Interest

Free Desktop Wallpaper
In an unexpected twist, the level backgrounds are available as desktop wallpaper. They can be exported from within the game itself; the only catch is that you need to first reach a level where the background appears before you can use it outside of the game.
Two game modes
You can play Spooky Bonus with or without a timer. This allows you to control how much of a challenge the various levels are, as there's no real way to lose when there's no time limit. That said, even if you do fail to complete a level in time, there isn't much of a penalty for it -- you simply need to try the level again.
Relaxing Match 3
Although each level does contain some obstacles for you to overcome, they generally don't stand in your way for long. Most of them can be easily removed by making matches, but since you also have powerups readily available, they don't stand much of a chance. Powerups are typically made through making matches of four or more tiles, though you also have a set of six upgradeable powerups at the bottom of the screen. Once they've been unlocked, they can be used at any time, but they have a limited amount of power. After using them, you'll need to recharge them by clearing tiles that have a unique shine or glow to them.
Steam achievements
There are a grand total of 19 achievements to earn while playing through this puzzle game. Most of them are simply earned by completing levels and entering new areas, but about a third of them require you to do something exceptional during your journey. Examples include purchasing every decoration, scoring a large number of points, or stringing together a large chain reaction with your various powerups.

You also get an achievement for completing the game in each mode, so you'll need to play through the game at least twice if you want to earn them all.

Lastly, if you like Steam trading cards, there's a spooky set to collect while you work your way through Old Town.
Fairly easy
Probably the biggest drawback to this game is that it lacks the sort of challenge and nuanced story that older gamers might be looking for. The main challenge is the level timer, and it's only active in timed mode. On top of this, it's likely that you'll always be able to clear a level with a generous amount of time remaining, rendering the time limit moot.

Concerns and Issues

Halloween trappings
Since this game is built around Halloween, just about everything you'd expect to see during the holiday can be found as you play. This includes skulls, black cats, ghosts, Jack o' Lanterns, and even vampires and witches. But, while these things are present in large amounts, nothing is graphic or overly scary. This is a children's game, after all.
Some powerups are problematic
Perhaps the most questionable thing in this game is that the final unlockable powerup is a tarot card. You're not told which card it is and it's only purpose is to shuffle the game board, but the tarot is a very touchy subject for Christians due to its affiliation with the occult.

Other potentially problematic items include crosses, silver bullets, and the crystal ball powerup. The first two are created by making larger matches and help you clear columns and rows of tiles, while the latter is an unlockable powerup that generates random powerups in the grid when used.