If there’s one thing mobile phones need, it’s yet another physics-based puzzlers with a cartoon graphics style. Amazing Alex, the latest creation from Rovio, hopes to capture the essence of Rube Goldberg’s ridiculous machines and make a hit casual title. In this venture they do succeed, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.
Amazing Alex’s format is very traditional. You complete twenty or so levels a set, collecting stars in each level to unlock the next set. The puzzles get generally more and more difficult as you go, and more puzzle elements are gradually introduced. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but that seems to be this game’s tagline.
As mentioned before, Amazing Alex’s puzzles are similar to the famous Goldberg machines. Your goal is to achieve an array of pointless tasks, such as knocking over books or popping balloons, by utilizing assorted household items that are provided for you, such as bowling balls, rope, and buckets. You’re in charge of putting these objects in the right place while factoring in gravity and inertia to make sure these strange contraptions serve their confusing purposes. This leads to a lot of inventive puzzles and solutions, undoubtedly, but there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. This is easily Amazing Alex’s greatest crime. As well-made, enjoyable, and eventually challenging as this game is, I never felt like I was playing a truly new game. I felt that I was merely playing a compilation of some game elements found in thousands of other titles. It’s a tired concept that even when done well, still feels like a tired concept.
The puzzles in Amazing Alex can be solved in multiple ways, including many ways not intended by the developer. There is always the way to solve a puzzle that Rovio had in mind, and this solution can usually be found by looking at where the three stars lie in the level and planning around those. The addition of these stars, which has become a standard in casual games as a way to rate your skill, is incredibly forced and out of place in a game that should be focused on inspiring creativity. You should always feel free to think outside the box while playing this game. You don’t always have to use all of the tools, and sometimes just trying out different things is best. This experimentation will not only commonly end up working, but it is also a lot of fun.
The most startling things about Amazing Alex is its terrible consistency. Your hand is held through the first fifteen levels, one of the longest tutorials I’ve had to sit through. After that, the difficultly is all over the place. One level may take a solid ten minutes to complete, the next only twenty seconds. It’s strange because this problem can be solved as easily as moving the order of the puzzles. This should definitely be done as soon as possible because it really does stick out.
There’s nothing special about Amazing Alex’s graphics or audio aspects. The graphics style is the same Disney-esque cartoon look that has been used thousands of times, but to be fair does still look nice. Sound effects are standard and the music is so unbelievably quirky I felt that I was solving a puzzle in Blue’s Clues.
The current 100 levels included in Amazing Alex, along with the promise of continuous free expansions, is just the tip of the iceberg in its value. Amazing Alex comes with the ability to download and create user-generated content. Anyone can create their own puzzles using all of the objects in the game and share them online with the world. With Amazing Alex already topping the charts on both iOS and Android, it’s safe to say that you will never run out of things to do, given you never get sick of this game.
Amazing Alex is a victim of this current mobile gaming craze, which is really a shame. It has incredibly creative puzzles and virtually endless content, but it isn’t anything close to new or exciting. If you need a new physics puzzler or are new to the genre all together, this is one to pick up for a buck. Otherwise, you’ve seen this before. Much like military shooters on consoles, only a phenomenal game truly warrants your attention when its genre reaches this level of over saturation. Amazing Alex hits a lot of high notes, but none quite high enough to escape drowning in the sea of its thematic kin.
(6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. It can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.)
|Sean Capdeville is the official mobile game reviewer of ScrewAttack.com. A cynic and aspiring filmmaker, his favorite games include Skyrim, Link's Awakening DX, and NOVA 3. In his spare time, he likes to reference Casablanca.|
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