All the Cool Kids Are Playing Color Switch

Color Switch
Samuel Ratumaitavuki

Every now and then it seems like there's a mobile game that everybody is playing. In 2014 it was Flappy Bird. In 2015 it was Mr. Jump. And as of this writing, the mobile gaming crown of Early 2016 seemed to belong to fast reaction game Color Switch. 

What Is Color Switch?

Originally released in December 2015, Color Switch is a game of twitchy fingers and color coordination. Like Flappy Bird, players need to tap to keep their avatar in the air. Unlike Flappy Bird, you'll be ascending upwards rather than across the screen. This gives players more control over their on-screen counterpart as they'll only have to worry about staying up, not up and left — but this minor distinction doesn't make the game any less difficult.

The catch in Color Switch is that your ball can only pass through objects of the same color. As you make your way upwards you'll encounter circles that spin, lines that move, and a variety of other obstacles — each with a four-color pattern you'll need to navigate. Players in Color Switch must wait for the exact right moment to cross through each blockade, as touching a color that is different from their ball will trigger a game over scenario.

Further adding to the challenge is the need for your ball to change color after each obstacle, as well as patterns that require you to pass in and out of them to get to the other side. Color Switch is a game of perfect timing, and unless you can master that, your high score will remain absurdly low. Even just bouncing the ball to keep it in play while waiting for the right moment can lead to an early demise if not handled with pinpoint perfection.

Why Are People Playing It?

If you look at the history of top charting free games on the App Store, you'll find a litany of blisteringly difficult one-touch games. More often than not, games of this nature will only hold the top spot for a week or two, quickly being replaced by the next brutal challenge that comes along. Color Switch seems to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule.

The reason? Color Switch plays like a Master Class in high score-driven game design. The challenge, word of mouth, and chart-topping nature are enough to get anybody to download the game and start playing, but it's what the game's developers do once you've started that will keep you coming back.

In addition to the endless main mode, the team behind Color Switch have added multiple level-based variations that give players a sense of progress long after they've maxed out their skills. These include things like a racing mode that pits you against an AI competitor, a reverse mode that plays inverted, a cave mode that has you playing in the dark — the list goes on and on. There's even a mode that has you keeping the ball aloft exactly like Flappy Bird, but instead of passing through pipes you need to pass through the typical Color Switch shapes and patterns.

Will It Last?

If publisher Fortafy Games keeps updating the game as fast and furiously as they have been since launch, Color Switch won't be going away any time soon. The game sees the addition of new modes, new levels, new patterns and more on a bi-weekly basis. By giving players more of what they want, Fortafy Games have hit on the magic formula that so many other high score chasers are missing: regular fresh content.

Color Switch also shows a sign of success that its creators are probably less enthused about: a non-stop parade of clones. Doing a search for Color Switch on the App Store will turn up a seemingly endless stream of imposters, from "Color Switch :)" and "Color Switch 2" to "Color Switch Jump," game mills have been quick to try and capitalize on the brand's success. As depressing as that must be, you don't inspire this many clones unless you're on to something huge.

If you aren't playing Color Switch yet, it's never too late to start. Color Switch is available as a free download on the App Store.