Puppy Sanctuary is a match three game with hidden object and Bust-A-Move-like elements. In the main part of the game, you have a puppy trapped. To free the puppy, you must use your mouse to clear all the tiles under certain gems. You do this by making matches of three or more gems over these tiles, vertically or horizontally. To make matches, you swap two gems horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Later, some tiles, lighter in color, must be matched twice to remove. Each match you make slowly fills the overload meter. When this is full, click it then click somewhere on the puzzle and it will remove some gems for you. If you take too long in timed mode, an alien will come and collect the puppy. Then you must restart the level.
Some obstacles you will face are locks, double locks and baskets. Locks prevent the gem from moving and are cleared by making a match with the locked item or using a bonus. Double locks are the same but must be cleared twice. Baskets contain gems of one color and are cleared by making one or more matches of that same color next to the basket. As mentioned, you have bonus items. You get these by making a match of four or more gems. The more gems in the match, the stronger the bonus. The bonuses are:
- Bombs: Destroys the gems or baskets in the neighboring squares. If the gem is locked or double locked, will remove one lock instead of destroying the gem. If there are tiles under the unlocked gem, it will clear one layer of tiles.
- Shuffle: Rearranges the unlocked gems, hopefully creating new possibilities.
- Fireballs: Removes all unlocked gems or baskets in straight line(s). Removes one lock from locked gems. Clears one layer of tiles.
- Lucky: No matter what you swap, for a short time, it will be a match.
- Remove: Will remove any unlocked gem of a certain color, anywhere on the board.
- Reveal: All available matches are shown, for a time.
- Time: If playing a timed mode game, will freeze the clock, giving you extra time. Will not appear in relaxed (untimed) mode.
On some levels, reminiscent of Bust-A-Move, you are trying to stop the alien(s) from building their traps. You do this by shooting colored gems at a group above you. Removing these will release other gems that will fill and overload the aliens overload meter, causing it to explode and drive the alien away. These matches must be of three or more but do not need to be in a line, just grouped together. Every so often, you will get a fireball bonus that can be used to clear some gems. Don't dally as the groups are slowly falling.
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