Fruit-themed WeChat game Merging Watermelon went viral over the weekend and is still trending on microblogging platform Weibo.
The free html5 (H5) game can be accessed via a dedicated WeChat mini-program and is pretty intuitive to play — players need to move falling fruits and combine with the same fruit, so as to form a bigger one. The game ends when the stacked fruits cross a red line at the top of the screen. The largest-sized fruit is the watermelon – which explains the name of the game.
The topic “Merging Watermelon” has been viewed over 1 billion times on Weibo and countless netizens have shared screenshots of the watermelons they merged and videos of their fruit merging combos. Many more simply expressed how addictive the game is with the hashtag #MergingWatermelon. Tactics are also being shared and trending on online Q&A forum Zhihu and Weibo.
To many, the game design is reminiscent of the popular puzzle game 2048, designed by Italian web engineer Gabriele Cirulli and posted on GitHub in March 2014.
In 2048, the interface is a 4×4 square, and each time the player moves a number to the neighboring block, the numbers such as “1”, “2”, and “4” will be randomly refreshed in the empty grid. Players need to add the same numbers together until they get the number 2048 before the 16 grids are full.
Merging Watermelon spices things up with an improved graphic. The colorful picture of grapes, coconuts, oranges, lemons, kiwifruit, passion fruits, and watermelons overthrow the design of 2048. And the juicy sound of fruits merging — sometimes several combos — makes the process more playful and fulfilling.
The operator behind the game is Micro Umbrella Game, whose parent is Beijing Midou Technology Company, a firm dedicated to making H5 games. As of now, the company has developed 809 such products, many of them with millions of users.
Micro Umbrella Game has a special game-customizing service. It only takes the company two to twenty days to develop a made-to-measure mini-game according to customer’s requirements. The company also provides free management and data analysis for clients.
Curiously, the sudden success for Merging Watermelon could probably not have been achieved without the recent drama in the Chinese show business, which recently witnessed the surrogacy abandonment scandal of actress Zheng Shuang as well as the sudden declaration of singers Zhang Bichen and Hua Chenyu to have a son. Since in Chinese internet culture gossip is referred to as “melon”, the game was immediately showered with free advertisement.
However, similarly to other popular games such as the chess game Jump Around, it remains unknown how long Merging Watermelon will remain popular among the countless mini-games displayed on WeChat games.