Sadly, Johnny Depp doesn't feature in the Android version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but there's plenty in Jar of Marbles III to make this game worth the free download.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow follows Johnny's, sorry, Ichabod Crane's rivalry with Brom Bones for the love of Katrina VanTassel in 18th-century Tarry Town, New York. It's an addictive physics-based match-three puzzler, with an eery ghost-story background. See Best Android apps.

You play Deidrich Knickerbocker, a young and aspiring writer arriving in Tarry Town in 1820, who is told the story of school master Ichabod Crane. Based on a short story by American author Washington Irving, it's fitting that Old Man Irving acts as narrator. However, we found the several minutes it took us to complete each level made it difficult to follow his story. That's okay, we've heard the legend of Sleepy Hollow several times before. In truth, it's really just background noise to the game. See The Great Pumpkin Festival.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

You can opt to enter either story- or quick-play mode. Objectives are given at each step of the journey, such as using a multi-coloured marble to match with two others, or simultaneously matching four marbles; ultimately, you keep playing until you match all the puzzle pieces at the bottom of the jar. You can also go back at any point and re-play a level to increase your overall score.

New 'jars' can be unlocked as you go along (actually such things as baskets, cauldrons and pumpkins), each with ever-tightening lips that make it more difficult to position marbles at the extreme edges, but the aim of the game remains the same.  

Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin jar

Marbles are tipped into a jar, and some will automatically match with each other as they realistically roll and crash about. You then quickly but carefully position and drop the remaining marbles on top, using a laser pointer if desired, hoping to match them with those inside the jar, or bash others out the way. Drop one over the edge and you lose 10 points; should you reach the top of the jar, you just keep carefully piling them on top. It's simple, difficult, addictive, all at the same time.

Unlike other free Android games, which often net an income via intrusive ads, all that's required here is the purchase of the odd cup of coffee to keep Old Man Irving spouting tales of the Headless Horseman. You don't have to pay up; Irving simply requires a rest break if no caffeine is forthcoming. 

We were warned to buy coffee three times before Irving fell asleep, and then had to wait several minutes before continuing. Exactly how long you have to wait depends on how far into the game you are, but once Irving's asleep you can buy a single cup of coffee for an ever-increasing number of coins (which can be won or purchased within the game), or unlimited coffee for $2.99. 

Sleep Hollow Coffee

Developer Swift Creek Games warns that the real-time physics engine used to replicate marble behaviour in Jar of Marbles III can be hard on older smartphones, resulting in choppy action. We found no such problems with our Sony Xperia P

Jar of Marbles III: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Specs

  • Android 2.3.3
  • 46MB storage
  • Android 2.3.3
  • 46MB storage

OUR VERDICT

Jar of Marbles III offers a slightly different take on the match-three concept. It's physics-based action means marbles realistically roll and crash about, and getting them where you want them can be challenging. The legend of Sleepy Hollow harps on in the background, primarily as a means for the developer to make up the money its losing by not plastering the game with intrusive banner ads.

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