Review - Hundreds
Mobile phones are the optimal platform for puzzle games. The touchscreen allows for near infinite methods of interaction with elements, and the $1 - $3 price range is actually pretty perfect for what most puzzle games offer. And of course, what better platform for the addictive “I just have to solve ONE more” nature of the genre? Taking full advantage of all these aspects is Semi Secret Software, the creators of Canabalt, a personal favorite that just recently earned a spot in the Museum of Modern Art. But can the developers of a simple, albeit brilliant, auto-runner really give us a worthwhile puzzle game?
Hundreds is advertised as minimalist in its style, and very appropriately so. The only consistent graphical elements of the game are light and dark grey circles, numbers, and a white background. The new puzzle elements added later on are just as simple, most of them in black, red, or light blue. In nearly any other game, these very basic graphics and lack of color variety would be a fairly significant downside, but in Hundreds they work to its advantage. They let you focus solely on solving the puzzle, never being distracting or in the way. So much so that I had to replay a few levels to specifically look at the graphics in order to properly write this paragraph. They also fit the gameplay perfectly in its unique simplicity.
Much like the graphics, there isn’t too much to Hundreds in terms of audio, nor does there really need to be. The music that constantly plays is a repetitive loop of soft techno, which fits the game’s tone but isn’t anything spectacular. Same goes for the sound effects of special pieces. The expanding of a circle, however, plays a fast paced clicking to indicate the number increasing, and for whatever reason, it’s incredibly satisfying to hear.
Like all great puzzlers, Hundreds has incredibly simple gameplay on the surface that hides exceptional depth underneath. Each “round” consists of small grey circles with 0s in them, bouncing around the screen. Touching one and holding down increases its number. If a circle touches anything while expanding, you lose. Once you get the circles’ numbers to add up to 100, you win. It’s that simple.
Of course, this is only the building blocks of the game. New game elements are constantly added throughout, only one or two feeling pointless or unsatisfying. Examples include negative circles, attached circles, permanently red circles, and spinning blades that brutally reset all circles they touch back to 0. It’s truly incredibly how often and consistently this game adds new features, and every one significantly changes how you have to think about solving the puzzles. Some of the puzzles have fixed solutions while others allow you to get to 100 any way you can. No two puzzles are alike, making the entire experience a consistent ride of pleasant surprises as you see what they're throwing at you next.
Of course Hundreds isn’t without its problems, but they are all minor grievances. To start, when new puzzle elements are added, you are given no explanation on how to use them. Since all of them are easy to grasp, there’s no real fun to be had in figuring them out, so a brief explanation would’ve been a good idea. The difficulty is also inconsistent, seeming to reset every time a new element is added. The biggest problem, though, is the obvious fact that when playing the game, your fingers will cover parts of the screen. It becomes incredibly frustrating while playing as your fingers will occasionally hide an object as you expand a circle, causing you to lose when you hit it, completely clueless that it was there. This is sadly unavoidable, but certainly a small price to pay for how great the touchscreen controls work with the game.
Hundreds consists of, appropriately, one hundred levels. Each level tracks how long you spent solving it and the number of touches it took, but there isn’t anything beyond that to make someone come back unless you feel the need to get on the GameCenter leaderboards. I also wouldn’t hold my breath on any new content soon, considering the perfect correlation between the game’s name, objective number, and number of current levels. As such, the $5 price tag makes it hard to fully recommend it for everyone until there’s a price drop or a sale.
Hundreds is a creative and amazingly well-designed puzzler that constantly changes into something new and more complex while keeping its excellent foundation intact. While flawed, I personally haven’t been this impressed with the concept and execution of a puzzle game since, honestly, Portal. Fans of the genre will certainly find it worthwhile, but the price is a tad too steep for most. If you are interested, though, I doubt you’ll regret the download, because at the end of the day it is, plain and simple, a great game.
8s are great games that have something holding it back from excellence, or some features
aren't as polished. The game is still extremely worthy of playing, but it may not be the most impressive.
|Sean Capdeville is the official mobile game reviewer of ScrewAttack.com. An aspiring filmmaker, his favorite games include Skyrim, Link's Awakening DX, and NOVA 3. In his spare time, he likes to reference Casablanca.|