February 19, 2011

Five iPhone physics puzzlers to topple Angry Birds from its perch

Everyone with an iPhone or an Android phone has heard of Angry Birds by now. According to the sales charts, more than a few have actually played it. Part of the game’s appeal is its simple controls and physics-minded puzzle scheme that has players firing various kinds of birds at structures to squash pigs hiding within them. But Angry Birds isn’t the only game that does physics well, nor is it the only iPhone title that uses slingshots, living projectiles and smashed enemies to score you points. Below we’ve compiled five iPhone titles that will push your physics knowledge and puzzle-solving skills to the test, both with and without flying characters.

Topple (Free)

It doesn’t get more simple or physics-heavy than trying to beat gravity, but that’s your goal in Topple, a free game in which you attempt to build the tallest tower you can using blocks of various sizes and shapes. The blocks fall from the top of the screen and require you to position them carefully using touch controls. Topple’s towers get out of hand in a hurry, so the game also works-in tilt controls to help you maintain balance while you drag and drop blocks to keep building. You can also rotate blocks for a better fit, and the faces drawn onto the pieces aren’t just part of the humorous art style -- they’ll also provide you clues about whether what you’re attempting is working or not. Best of all, this one’s a freebie. If you can't get enough, check out Topple 2 Plus+ (Free).

Finger Physics: Thumb Wars ($0.99)

Thumb Wars is actually broken into two physics puzzle games -- one, in which you manipulate objects and platforms in order to try to get a ball from one side of the screen to another, and another that requires you to create stacks of objects to reach different points on the screen. Both halves of the app are pretty robust and deep, with many puzzles in each that require a lot of precision and care to complete. The pile levels require you to carefully beat gravity for a set amount of time with objects of differing size and shape, while the ball-moving levels will often ask you to place objects around the stage while breaking others. You’ll see quite a bit of different challenge in the 90-plus stages you get to play through.

Crayon Physics Deluxe ($4.99)

To move a ball from one side of a level to the other in Crayon Physics, you don’t have to just use objects -- you have to create some by drawing them with your fingers. Sketch platforms to allow the ball to reach different areas, use blocks to act as counterweights for pulleys and seesaws, and even create axles to make other objects rotate. It’s a physics puzzler if ever there was one, requiring not just that you understand the physics behind the puzzle you’re looking at, but that you invent the means to solve it and do a halfway decent job with your drawings. Couple the challenging levels with the fun crayon art style, and Crayon Physics becomes a hard game to put down.

Fragger ($0.99)

Using an arcing targeting system similar to what’s found in Angry Birds, each of Fragger’s puzzle stages asks you to throw grenades to take out terrorists inside structures. You’ll have to determine the angle and power of each grenade throw to reach all the terrorists, and the fewer grenades you use to do so, the higher your score will be at the end of each stage. Some terrorists will need to be blown up within a building; others you can just peg with a grenade to knock them off their platforms into chasms below. But each stage is a puzzle in which the enemies don’t move, just like in Angry Birds. Fragger supports Game Center for leaderboards and achievements, and it also receives some fairly frequent free updates with additional stages.

Fun With Death ($0.99)

In some ways, Fun With Death is a better game than Angry Birds. It requires more strategic thinking than its counterpart, because instead of just knocking down a building and squashing the enemies inside, Fun With Death requires you to avoid squashing some of the people inside the structure, while still getting rid of others. As Death, your goal is to clear out the Underworld-bound red souls while protecting the blue souls heading for Heaven, across 60 levels. You do that by flinging demons toward piles of different materials with the souls on them, as well as by placing different objects around the levels in order to help flying demons avoid some souls while targeting others. Fun With Death is a great outgrowth of the Angry Birds formula, adding complexity while maintaining the same fun that the game’s more popular counterpart is capable of producing.

by Phil Hornshaw Appolicious Yahoo Games February 15, 2011

Five iPhone physics puzzlers to topple Angry Birds from its perch

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