Game review: Amazing Alex
by Fabrizio Bianchini
Amazing Alex is a smart game by Rovio (that also brought us the highly addictive Angry Birds) available for a small price, depending on the store, on Apple Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store.
It’s a puzzle game set in the small, but nonetheless full of challenges, world of young Alex. The game develops through four typical everyday locations: Alex’s classroom, Alex’s bedroom, his Backyard and his Tree house, with one-hundred levels. Who would ever think that places like these would hide so many phisics mysteries? Of course Alex does, and he is not afraid to dare us to solve his puzzles. Because everyone could pierce a balloon with an arrow, but what if I told you that you must also use a… pipe?
This game has a very simple and intuitive touch screen interface and a beautiful soundtrack that follows you between levels without getting annoying. There are 35 items that you can use to complete the tasks, and each location has its own objects. Your target is to complete all the four locations, and of course scoring three stars for each level! Each puzzle is rated from a minimum of one star (the solution works, but it’s not the best way), to a maximum of three stars (optimal solution). Don’t worry if you don’t get maximum score at first try. You can play the levels on each location as many times as you want, finding different solutions, and you can also share them with your friends via social networks!
Not all locations are available at the beginning, of course. You start from the first one and you can go on by completing levels and collecting stars. That’s a great way to build the hype and to stimulate the players to solve the puzzles at their best instead of settling with just a low-star level solution, creating expectation for what’s to come. This Smart Game is based on the founding principles of the term “Gamification”: levels give the player a status, just like the stars gained and the possibility of sharing the results with other players, generating competition and zest, to the point that you can’t resist the urge to create your own levels.
At first sight, this game might seem easy and just a little bit trivial, but don’t be so easily fooled: it’s true, it’s a didactic game based on the laws of physics and you cannot solve the puzzles with a casual approach, but with the right glimpse of genius no puzzle is impossible.
Alex’s world has a great number of specific objects and situations depending on the location where the player is putting his brain to the test to solve the puzzles. In the Class location it will be necessary to generate domino effects with school books, balloons and reclining shelves. In the Backyard location the objects change, becoming pipes and darts. All that’s needed to challenge the player to think in different ways, because the physics qualities of a pool ball are quite different from a soccer ball or a tennis ball. At the same time, the application point of a particular force, i.e. to make a book fall down, will be obviously different from the one needed to make a cardboard box fall down. While facing a puzzle in a location, you will often face situations similar to others already solved in the previous ones. You will be tempted to follow the same principles and apply the same solving mechanics used before, but the objects at your disposal will be quite different and so it will be clear that another path would have to be taken.
First, you need to brainstorm to understand how the puzzle could work, and remember: every puzzle MUST be solved with the items that the level gives you. You can drag and drop the items on the screen in various positions and combine them to create a correct chain reaction. If you’re in trouble, you can tap the button with the lightbulb on the menu and look at Alex’s solution but, remember, there’s always more than one right answer for each puzzle… and maybe yours is better than Alex’s!
The fun doesn’t end when you finish all the levels, though. The “Build and share” mode, in fact, allows you to create your own puzzles and share them with your friends and, at the same time, get the puzzles from your friends in a sort of an e-learning challenge! Who will create the best physics puzzle? How many puzzles will it take to drive each other crazy, or to win the “King of the Physics Lab” crown? Choose wisely the objects and the effects, and be proud of your puzzle while your friends struggle on it.
Amazing Alex is an hilarious Smart Game including all the features of the best modern games: a good Single player Mode and Co-Operative mode (the four locations and the Build and Share), a simple and intuitive Graphical User Interface with cute widgets and a lot of Downloadable Contents and updates that help to improve the longevity and the enjoyment of the game.
The game mechanics about physics laws are very rigorous: there are many “Invisible Bosses” in each puzzle like Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, who don’t allow you to break the principles of classical physics. Be smart… and show them!