"Not Amazing, But Still Very Fun"
There once was a game called Casey's Contraptions. It was a puzzler built around taking various objects and positioning them so that they would interact with one another and create Rube Goldberg-esque chain reactions in order to accomplish a given task. The game charmed many who played it, which in turn led to the game being praised.
Then, along came Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, who bought the rights to the game from the creators. With free reign to do what they please, Rovio took Casey's Contraptions, polished it up, added some puzzles of their own, and rereleased the refurbished game under a new title: Amazing Alex.
Now, before I continue, I should like to note that I have never played Casey's Contraptions, so my opinion on Amazing Alex is based on its merits only and is not influenced by time spent with its previous incarnation in any way. Now that that's done with, let's continue.
Each of the puzzles in this game revolves around accomplishing a simple task. One puzzle may have you trying to knock a ball or another object off a ledge or into a basket, while the next will have you trying to guide a balloon to the top of the screen.
Every puzzle gives you a unique set of objects to help you meet its particular task. These range from simple items like boards, pipes and balls, to gradually more complex gadgets that require more than one step to fulfill their purpose, such as switch-powered RC trucks, accordion arms with boxing gloves attached, slingshots, etc. The goal is to position the objects throughout the screen in such a way that when everything starts moving (via a play button in the top right corner of the screen), they interact with one another to achieve the desired effect.
Amazing Alex's challenge isn't simply in meeting each puzzle's requirements, as there are, spread across each one, three stars in need of collecting. Getting stars can be as simple as placing a bucket above one and letting it fall onto it, but more often than not, a good deal more thought is required to clear each puzzle with all three stars. While challenging, this is helped by the ability to stop the action once it begins at any time, which makes it easy to experiment and iron out the kinks in your setup.
It also helps that the game's physics work so well. While wonky physics could have made the gameplay clunky and difficult to handle, Amazing Alex manages to avoid warranting such concerns. Objects move, roll, or fall in various (and believable) ways depending on their shape, weight, and the slant of the surface they are on. This believability keeps the puzzles from ever becoming frustrating due to poor physics.
Spot-on physics cannot relieve the game of some of its shortcomings, unfortunately. The most notable of these is the linearity of most of the puzzles, which, while fun, are somewhat limited in that there is only one route to clearing them with all three stars, which kind of goes against the ability to experiment with the placement of objects and so on. This, in turn, causes the puzzles to also suffer from a lack of replay value, as there is little reason to go back to them once they have been aced.
However, Amazing Alex does do something to balm the above issues with the inclusion of a level creator. Starting off with the simple, static objects, the level creator allows for use of more and more of the game's various objects as more puzzles are cleared, allowing players to create (and then share) whatever puzzles their minds can conjure up. My one disappointment with the level creator was that I was unable to play my creations normally after I had completed them, meaning that I had to go back into the editing process to try them out again.
Judging from my time with Amazing Alex, I am not sure that it will become the next big thing in the App Store - the next big Angry Birds, in other words. However, the game has its merits, from solid physics to a strong level creator, which outweigh the frequent linearity and occasional lack of replay value that appear in its puzzles.
While I cannot say if Amazing Alex is a step up or down from its original form, I can say that those that try out Rovio's take on Casey's Contraptions will more likely than not find that the money spent on this game is worth it.
GameDynamo's Score for Amazing Alex (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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