Tips for HACK*MATCH Puzzle
Chains, chains, and more chains. Try to visualize what’s going to fall when you clear a group, and work out what to line up so that you’ll make a chain. You can keep making moves while a chain is resolving, allowing you to extend more links if you’re quick enough.
Use the swap button, It’s a very potent tool to dig through and fish out the pieces you need. You can reach a piece three deep with grab, swap, drop, swap, grab. Likewise you can deposit a piece three deep with drop, swap, grab, swap. I recommend taking some time to just practice manipulating pieces this way, get a feel for it until it’s instinct to quickly get pieces where they need to be.
The powerups are considerably less useful here in than in Exapunks, because you should be killing before a second copy ever spawns. They don’t deal any damage either. They’re still good for cleaning up the board, and with one less color you might be able to set of a chain next and make that one count, so do go ahead and use it if you find an early pair. But don’t rely on it, pairs usually don’t show up until it’s too late.
UPD: I am mistaken, chains off of powerups do count. So they’re still powerful if you can get them, it’s just a big if.
When you get to Exa Nina, watch her attack gauge in the corner closely, and try to make sure your board is as empty as possible when her attack lands. She turns whatever’s onscreen into garbage, so if you have more than three rows you’re probably instadead, but less than that and you can work through it. You’re very unlikely to fully clean the board in time for her second attack, so you really need to kill her before she charges up another.
Alternatively, try to just kill her before she even does the first attack. It can be done!
Few More Notes to Add:
Chains in this game don’t actually have to be chains, you can just make more clears while other clears are going and they will count, Money Puzzle Exchanger/Magical Drop style. You can also add pieces to a group that’s clearing and they’ll clear with it, giving you the bonus for a large group. You do have to be pretty fast and I’m not particularly good at this style of active chaining (I suck at MPE and MD), so I mostly just set mine up Puyo-style and that works. But keep this in mind because it’s quite powerful if you can use it.
Scoring actually seems to favor playing slow and not dealing too much damage. I haven’t worked out the formula for score or garbage, but I feel like I score a lot less when I win in 1-2 big chains then when I chip them down. I did notice that bare clears of 4 deal no damage, but do score points, so if you’re comfortable stalling you can keep the boss alive indefinitely and try to rack up points this way. Not fond of this and I hope they might consider adjusting the scoring system, just adding a time bonus for quick kills would be best I think.
More Tips? More Tips:
The swap button can reach through blocks that are clearing. This is going to be tricky to get your head around but I’m certain it’s an incredibly potent tool for active chaining.
Garbage reverts back into whatever piece it was before being converted. If you can keep track, you can set up chains through garbage.
It’s possible to save a single piece from Exa Nina’s attack if you drop it with the right timing. She will garbage a piece you are grabbing or holding, but not while you are dropping it. Hard to time it right and just one single piece is probably not going to be that useful, but it’s an interesting quirk I discovered.