Developer: Rovio Entertainment Ltd
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
The buzz that surrounded the release of Rovio’s newest title may have been a bit over-dramatic, but in the world of marketing, buzz is all you need. Rovio of course built a name for itself with the Angry Birds franchise and since lightening rarely strikes twice, it seems this go round was all about business.
Rovio’s latest title, Amazing Alex, is not an entirely new and original release as many fans had hoped, but rather a rebranding of a previous iOS game titled Casey’s Contraptions. Amazing Alex, as it's now called, is a game based on physics and puzzles. Alex is a kid who likes to use random objects to build Rube Goldberg-style contraptions and they need pieced together to achieve each level goal.
Using things like hamster cage tunnels, shelves, scissors and toys, players (on behalf of Alex) complete each puzzle by placing objects in play on the screen in an attempt to create a contraption that will achieve the desired result. The field of play contains many stationary objects and players drag available manipulative objects into the puzzle. Objects can be rotated by dragging the handle that appears around them after placement. The goal is typically simple and may involve getting a ball into a basket or knocking over a tower of books. In addition to completing the goal, players also attempt to build a puzzle that will result in the collection of all three level stars.
Amazing Alex offers four different environments to play – the classroom, the backyard, Alex’s bedroom and the treehouse. There are 32 levels to puzzle out per location and over 30 interactive objects. The physics engine used in Amazing Alex is natural feeling and the placement and rotation of objects is simple. The goal is outlined with blue symbol indicators that indicate the object in question and where it is supposed to go. The first few levels are designed to be super-simple for the purpose of instruction, but many players familiar with similar iOS games may interpret them as boring. The levels do progress in difficulty, though none are so difficult as to be overly complex.
Amazing Alex also offers a social aspect to the game. Players can create their own levels, share them with friends (or the world) by uploading them to the web and can download levels created by other players. There is also a Twitter and Facebook integration option. This is perhaps one of the stronger elements of Amazing Alex, but even when put together with the quality physics engine, style and semi-redesign of the game, it still doesn’t feel “new.” It has some degree of satisfaction as a cute and clever game with easy, intuitive interface, but it’s difficult to tell if it was designed for kids of all ages or just kids.
At $0.99 Amazing Alex is a solid offering — espeically with Rovio's reputation for updated levels. Rovio may be able to momentarily create a new storm in the App Store and Amazing Alex is entertaining enough, but even so it’s more like thunder than lightening.