What the team behind Angry Birds did next
Having to follow up a success like the Angry Birds series is not a challenge to be taken lightly, given that Rovio’s first brainchild is synonymous with iOS gaming – to the point where it tends to be the first on anybody’s lips when the subject crops up.
Amazing Alex then had hype and expectation around it before its release, and the danger with this is that it can sometimes lead to a fall. Happily though, it looks like Rovio has swerved such a pothole by sticking to the puzzle formula they know and once again utilising the physics engine that was the star of the show in Angry Birds Space. The premise here is to help Alex complete various household tasks by creating chain reaction-based contraptions that will help him tidy his room or the backyard. The way you do this is by laying out shelves to roll away his football or knocking over books to start a chain reaction, not unlike a Rube Goldberg machine. These are just the very first levels that are designed to ease you into the mindset and strategy in the gameplay. The entire first chapter is well paced in this way that by the end of it you feel ready to try something a little more challenging, the sort of thing that you will find in abundance later on.
There is much more precision required in Amazing Alex than any of the Angry Birds titles when it comes to gestures and touch screen interactivity. Whereas in previous Rovio titles the emphasis has been on tapping and timing, here you can alter the angle and placement of any items you add to a screen, taking on board angles and the physics of each object within the chain. The number of objects you can utilise highlights just how much scope there is within this game, with various balls, shelves, balloons and pipes that you can drag and drop into your chain to complete the task.
It wouldn’t be a Rovio game without throwing in some stars to collect of course. These become more awkwardly positioned as you advance through the chapters, meaning that your chains have to become more and more elaborate.
Indeed the actual objective of each level can vary from catching something in a basket to popping balloons or ensuring they escape beyond the top of the screen. Variety is a big part of the gameplay here.
While there is a high level of familiarity about playing Amazing Alex in the interface and puzzle principles, one new aspect is the inclusion of a real sense of community and sharing within the app. At the end of each level, alongside your own performance stats, there is a side menu that shows you how other users fared on the same level, complete with the number of stars they achieved.
On top of that, if you are struggling with a particular level, you can seek out solutions from other users via the in-game menu. If you choose to share your own accomplishments you could see the game you played added to this menu.
Amazing Alex also encourages users to get involved in relation to its levels with a creation area where you can build your own to be submitted to the developers. These are then available to download from the Rovio site, to which there is a link in the game. This means you can extend the game beyond the initial four chapters that are on offer, and tackle puzzles that were created by other players. It’s a smart addition to the feature list, and one that ensures players will keep coming back to Amazing Alex, even before updates and official new levels become available.
The overriding feeling you get from playing this game is one of instant comfort, and this is in no way a bad thing. There is a huge amount of familiarity in both the design and the actual gameplay – even though Amazing Alex is an original title. Across the chapters you can’t help but be reminded of childhood games of Mousetrap as you watch your chain reactions take place. The joy of this game is that you know, almost instantly, that you can pick it up at any point in the day and be entertained for a few minutes, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, and this is a feeling and mindset that Rovio is becoming more accomplished at hitting.
And that is one of reliability, something that is worth its weight in gold in the gaming world.
Had a lot of hype to live up to, and thankfully ticks all the boxes it should.
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