Twisty Planets iOS
Some of my earliest video game memories involved games found on the many Demo One disks my brother had collected for his Playstation. One of those games was an addictive little puzzle game called Kula World in which you controlled a bouncy beach ball on a series of floating blocks in the sky somewhere, where you ate fruit and collected keys for some reason. And when I saw the trailer for Twisty Planets, these memories came flooding back to me and I just had to get my hands on it.
Twisty Planets is a puzzle-platformer where the aim of the game is to rotate the ‘world’ to shift gravity, allowing you and your cute little T.V. box thing to reach the goal without falling into the abyss. In each level there are three stars to collect; one of which must be collected in order to open the goal. Falling off of the world will restart the level or just take away a star if you have one, which is then lost for the remainder of the current attempt.
Despite what the catchy title implies, these ‘planets’ don’t actually twist at all. Instead they are made up of character sized cubes placed together in such a way that creates interestingly shaped puzzles that – as a whole – can be rotated and flipped. Because the camera is always looking down on the theoretical corner of each planet, the level can be rotated on any axis by gesturing left and right, or up and down at either side of the screen. Taping in the corners of the screen will move your character one space in that direction.
The controls seem to work very well for the most part, but sometimes it can be difficult to view a specific side of the level without your character falling off. I guess the idea is that parts of the level cannot be seen until you get closer to them, but I can’t help but think that in any great puzzle game you should be able to see the whole situation before making your move. On the more complex levels, even viewing your character can become tricky when moving about in the centre of a planet. You become torn between trying to get a better view and rotating the world so that gravity works in your favour which can result in a loss of stars.
As you progress through the levels, new mechanics are introduced. Swirly pink teleporting pads will transport you to a different side of the level, switching the camera angle and gravity in the process. As if you weren’t dizzy and confused enough, bouncy springboards are also scattered through the worlds and give you a second to rotate the level whilst the character is in mid-air, helping you reach new areas safely (unless you rotate the wrong way and fall right through the centre of the planet of course).
Automatic moving platforms also add to the challenge of each level and not always in a good way. I’m all for the specific timing needed to surpass an obstacle, but sometimes some strange ‘sliding’ happens when you jump onto a block that starts to move. You often end up falling when you feel you shouldn’t and decide to play it super safe next time.
If there’s one thing I hate in a puzzle game, it’s being timed when you don’t need to be, but fortunately the time aspect isn’t too much of an annoyance with Twisty Planets. If you manage to complete each puzzle in a unique time, you receive a time bonus reward. I like that there are extra challenges beyond the three stars, but the rather large timer at the bottom of the screen can be a little distracting when you really just want to concentrate. When trying to get the time rewards, the game starts to feel more like a platformer than a puzzle game, and that’s ok it just isn’t for me. A challenge for taking less steps or rotating the world less might be more fitting.
In a lot of ways, Twisty Planets is a fantastic puzzle game. The music is soothing and helps you to concentrate, the sound effects are very rewarding and fitting for an iOS puzzle game, and the graphics are cute and playful if somewhat limited. Currently there are only three sets of levels with their own theme such as space, desert and earth which are different only because of their sky and block types. But Twisty Planets doesn’t hit me as a game that needs anything spectacular in the art department; like Kula World it’s a simplistic puzzle game with great puzzles that often mess with your head and leave you thinking it’s impossible where in actual fact, the solution is right in front of you, you just haven’t seen it yet.