App Review: Amazing Alex
- — 16 August, 2012 22:00
|Name||App: Amazing Alex|
|At a glance:||Over 300 levels,Difficulty ramps up slowly,Can create your own levels|
|Summary:||Brainpower and physics combine for a puzzle game|
|RRP:||$4.19 (iPad); $1.29 (iPhone)|
Rovio, the company that made Angry Birds, has finally produced an entirely new game: it's called Amazing Alex.
Amazing Alex is a game in the mould of The Incredible Machine and Cut the Rope. You're presented with a scene that has a few elements in it, then, with the assistance of a couple more items that you can place on-screen, you try to solve a puzzle.
That might involve popping a balloon, knocking books into a basket, or getting a ball into a bucket.
Each puzzle involves the creative use of elements such as blocks of wood, ropes, pipes, bumpers and scissors. With a little bit of creativity and imagination, and a generous helping of both physics and trial-and-error, you can solve the puzzles.
To add to the challenge, there are 1, 2 and 3 star solutions, much as there is with Angry Birds. In this case, however, the stars are literal - each puzzle screen has three stars, and if your solutions also capture those stars, you get correspondingly higher scores.
Each puzzle has a solution that Alex has created, so you can compare your skills to his (or get some assistance in solving it, if needed). If you can solve it in a faster time than Alex did, you get told so, and it adds a nice little boost to the ego when you can beat Alex at his own game several times in a row.
The first ten puzzles are tutorial-like, walking you through some of the basic tools, elements and scenarios (see below, the guides that tell you how to solve this level) so that you can get an idea of how everything works together. The first 48 levels together are called "the classroom", both for the elements you can use within the puzzles - think books - and because it's the training ground for the rest of the game.
There are an additional 96 levels set in Alex's Backyard - here, you'll find pipes and buckets - and 96 more in Alex's Bedroom, which rely on pinball-like bumper, washing baskets and toys.
The Treehouse is locked until you clear the first two sets, but adds yet another 96 levels. In other words, there's enough here to keep you going for hours, especially if you, like me, want three-star solutions to every puzzle.
You can also create your own puzzle levels and download other people's puzzle creations.
I felt that the difficulty level didn't ramp up significantly until you get to Alex's Bedroom, although around 20 puzzles into The Backyard is where I started to get two-star solutions on my first attempt, rather than immediately getting three-star glory.
Compare that level of difficulty, though, to my attempts in Alex's Bedroom, where I often had to try something, see the result, adjust all my blocks and scissors and ropes, and then try again. Even the first few levels in Alex's Bedroom took me four or five tries before I solved them to my satisfaction (which is to say, with at least two-star results).
As a longtime fan of The Incredible Machine, I found Amazing Alex was more interesting than Cut The Rope, which can depend on fast reflexes as much as cleverness at some of the higher levels. That can give a definite feeling of satisfaction, but being able to think my way through everything is more compelling.
Angry Birds is a better game overall, purely because it delivers visceral satisfaction out of crushing the pigs that Amazing Alex can't match with stars and balloon pops, but it's a great puzzle game nonetheless. And a little less violent...