Jul 16, 2012
After several Angry Birds incarnations, Rovio’s first departure from the series is Amazing Alex, a different kind of physics-based puzzler. Players must build Rube Goldberg contraptions of over 30 different items to achieve a certain goal, like popping a balloon or getting an object to a certain point in a level. Later levels introduce new objects to play with and more complicated scenarios. If this sounds familiar, this is because this is based off of an iPad game called Casey’s Contraptions that Rovio acquired and have now released on more platforms.
What Rovio really did in its conversion of the game, despite few changes to content or mechanics, was to make it control a lot better. There is no text tutorial any more, the opening levels are designed to teach players the mechanics by actually playing with them, instead of having to be told what to do. The controls also make moving and rotating objects easy, without the need for multitouch gestures.
The level creation is very easy to use. Players just have to create a level with three stars in it, then find a way to get all three to guarantee that it is possible to beat. Then the level can be uploaded to the web or shared via email. The whole process is cross-platform, too: the levels are downloaded via web browser, and I created a level on the Android version, and downloaded it on the iPad to test this out.
While Amazing Alex at its best encourages creative solutions, some levels can be frustrating because it requires just so many tiny adjustments in order to beat some levels. Some levels wildly fluctuate in difficulty to the point where one can feel impossible, the next has a completely obvious solution. Sadly, the solution sharing from Casey’s Contraptions is entirely gone. It was a great way to see how a level really works, or how other people saw the level through their own thought processes. Just collecting three stars without any kind of recognition beyond the act feels like a letdown.
The fun of Amazing Alex comes in through the ability to be creative, to get involved. For people who want to get involved in their games at a deeper level than just completion, this will be a great choice. The level creation and sharing is easy to use, and great for replay value. However, for those that are looking for the next Angry Birds, a fun game to try and solve, this may not be one’s cup of tea.