Apparatus App Review

Apparatus App Review

Jan 27, 2012

I will admit that I am a nerd. I’m an engineering student who grew up on the first version of The Incredible Machine and free-form puzzle games are some of my favorites. That being said, I expected a lot from Apparatus, and fortunately for me it delivered, and it was one of the few apps where I was actually amazed while playing it. The first thing I have to say about this app is that it is gorgeous and it runs smooth to boot. This was tested on my quickly aging EVO 4G, so even non-feature phones should have no problem running this app.

For those not familiar with the premise of games like The Incredible Machine, the game gives a simple objective and a set amount of materials for the player to gerry-rig up into their own special Rube Goldberg machine. Games like these thrive on the user’s creativity, and Apparatus is no different; however, I would have liked to have seen some more open-ended gameplay as some levels seemed very linear. There is also an excellent free-play mode where the player is given no restrictions and allowed to let their creativity roam.

Going well with this free mode is the fairly fleshed out community that comes with the game. Downloading user-made levels could not be easier, and it only takes a few seconds to get a level and start playing. This sense of community is a huge addition for a game like Apparatus as the game aspires to be a kind of Little Big Planet for the mobile device. As we’ve seen with games like Minecraft, Halo, and the aforementioned Little Big Planet, what the public is capable of doing has no bounds, and giving them a way to share their magnum opus with the rest of humanity is an essential feature for any game nowadays.

And by "no bounds" we mean THIS.

One gripe with Apparatus is the lack of a tutorial to explain some of the features of the game. The first few minutes here will be frustrating due to seemingly random actions that become more clear the longer the game is played. Also the controls can be a bit touchy, but like above, they too work themselves out as the player becomes familiar with them. All that aside, Apparatus is a great game that impresses both graphically and fundamentally; a definite pick up for those who long for the days of The Incredible Machine on Windows 98.

Domino Run Review

Domino Run Review

Jul 20, 2011

I don’t know about most people, but I LOVED playing with dominoes as a kid. Standing them up while building crazy Rube Goldberg-esque machines just to watch them topple over was such a fun thing to do that it was years before I realized there was a game you were supposed to be playing with them. What a revelation it was when I realized what the series of dots printed on each domino was actually for!

Domino Run takes the same fun of knocking down dominoes and turns it into a physics-based puzzle game. You have a set of dominoes standing on a layered platform that must be arranged so that when you tip them over, they knock over a special domino last. If any of them fail to knock over the special domino last, you fail the level and have to try again. The idea is to do it in a few moves and as little time as possible.

As you progress through the 70 levels spanning 3 worlds, you encounter other special dominoes with their own physics-altering properties. For example, some dominoes continuously roll rather than just flop to the ground. Others stand in place and force any domino that hits them to bounce back and fall in the opposite direction. Then you have the dominoes that can bridge gaps and more. It gets really challenging as you try to get around obstacles while figuring out how to use every type of domino to your advantage.

However, the game does have a few annoyances. My chief complaint about Domino Run is the controls. Picking up and moving dominoes around is simple enough and works well — you just touch and drag. But knocking over a domino can take several attempts to accomplish. You tap a domino to select it, then drag in the direction you want it to fall. Sometimes, it falls right over. But I’ve found that I’ve had to repeat the process several times to get them started. It feels like the sensitivity needs a little adjustment. There are other, smaller annoyances; for example, the pictographs that pop up to explain how each new domino works — I didn’t understand them, at all. Maybe I’m just thick, but they didn’t make any sense until I went into the help menu to read exactly how they were supposed to work.

What makes Domino Run great are the levels that require you to get very creative with your solutions. For example, Level 1-15 took several attempts to solve until, on a whim, I decided to see what would happen if I tried moving one of the “bouncer” dominoes while the sequence was in progress. Turns out, it worked perfectly. Kudos to Shiny Egg Studios for including a puzzle without an obvious solution into the mix. Maybe I’m not so thick, after all?

Domino Run is great game that requires a lot of creative thinking while offering all the fun of knocking down dominoes. Best of all? There’s nothing to clean up when you’re done!