July 2, 2011
One of the things I dislike most about the App Store in general -- and casual gaming in particular -- is the overwhelming abundance of Bejeweled-esque "match three" clones. Because of the simple concepts and pacing required of these titles, they're usually easier to develop, helping many budding coders earn their game-making wings. As such, the genre seems something of a necessary evil. I get that. But I still hate it. You can imagine my general apathy, then, when Felwig's new Boxel app landed in my inbox. I did my due diligence, visited the iTunes landing page, read the descriptions, viewed the screenshots, downloaded the title, and -- very much to my surprise -- actually enjoyed the game! See, Boxel epitomizes that winning combination of fine craftsmanship and amazing simplicity. More than that, though, it rends itself free from the limiting shackles of traditional match three gameplay by adding palpable, real-world physics to your frenetic, cube-slinging ways. Controls are straightforward and consist of nothing more than familiar "tap-to-fire" basics. Presented with a multicolored, rotating assembly of blocks, you're given an ammo clip of constituent pieces to fire upon all matching squares. However, every impact sends the master shape twirling along the appropriate axis, and -- if you build too high and push incorrectly, bombs await to intercept your actions (and your life). The developers don't think you can make it past level eight. I only got about halfway there. If you think you can do better, download the iPad-only Boxel now for $1.99 on iTunes.