For iPhone app puzzle games, there's a new technology in town. Ragdoll physics engines, where the objects on the screen are given a sort of virtual weight to them so that they behave more realistically, has now trickled down to iPhone app puzzle games. Here are five of the more interesting available:
I have a sneaking suspicion that the work of being a demolition man is covered with far too much red tape and legal ramifications to ever be as satisfying as just playing Implode! ($1.99). Implode! gives you the power of the demolition man; that is, it gives you a couple of sticks of dynamite and a plunger, and tells you to put it on some wireframe structures and let ‘er rip. If your implosion brings the structure down to a pre-determined line, you advance, if not, you try again. Later levels incorporate different styles of dynamite and more difficult goals (don’t let your structure fly off into a side wall, for instance). It’s fun, incredibly easy to pick up and put down quickly, and a must have for anyone who used to build Legos up just to knock them down again.
Finger Physics (99 cents) is pretty much the opposite of Implode! Instead of using physics to tear things down, you use it to build things up. Finger Physics gives you a set goal per level that increases in difficulty as you progress. It begins as simple as “build a structure to the line above” where you’ll stack circles, squares and rectangles until you reach a specific height, to more difficult tasks like using sets of magnetized rectangles in order to create floating structures that stay in one piece. There are a few different styles of puzzle in Finger Physics, which means that it never gets stale trying to complete a similar task over and over again, and the price makes this colorful puzzler very hard to pass up.
Fantastic Contraption ($4.99) might be the most difficult of the physics puzzle games, unless you were a whiz with Erector sets as a kid. The goal here is simple enough – to get an object from Point A to Point B using a handful of tools at your disposal. Your toolset is comprised of a few different kinds of wheels and two different items, water and branches, to attach the wheels to your object. Each tool changes how your device moves, so unless you’re a handy creator, there’s an awful lot of trial and error involved. The price may look steep for an iPhone game, but the ability to upload your contraptions and create your own levels makes this one of the deeper games available in the iTunes App Store.
Smashed ($2.99) is, rather unfortunately, not a bar simulator. Instead, the name is taken at its most literal meaning. In this game, you will smash boxes by tapping on them. Over and over. In an odd bit of character for a physics-based puzzle game, you play the role of a person new to a company that apparently smashes a lot of boxes. Your foreman pops up from time to time to give you new objectives or to complain that you’re doing things incorrectly. Meanwhile, you’ll smash boxes with a variety of objects. Sometimes, you have to smash them in a time limit, sometimes they’ll have to avoid falling into water, but always, you will tap them, and they will break. The price is a bit much to pay for what I described above, but this is one of the better looking puzzle games on the iPhone, and it is fun to smash boxes into bunches of little splinters.
Do you remember the part of the circus where a person is used as a human cannonball, and is fired into the air amidst the oohs and ahhs of the crowd? The makers of Ragdoll Blaster ($1.99) do, and they liked it a lot. Ragdoll Blaster is basically that experience, but with some puzzle elements thrown in. The entire game revolves around you tapping the screen to fire your ragdoll out of a cannon in an attempt to hit a target. Sometimes, you have to strategically place one ragdoll in a place where you’ll eventfully get the target to move, other times you can hit the target easily with a well aimed shot. With more than 100 different levels, Ragdoll Blaster is quite a bit of bang for your buck.