Developer: GearSprout
Price: $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Chuck the Bot‘s title is a little misleading, because while it does star a robot named Chuck, you can’t actually chuck Chuck at all. Instead the goal in this little physics puzzlers is to let the hero fall off the bottom of levels that are a mix of Rube Goldberg-esque puzzles with elements of Cut the Rope. Rather than using the various ropes, pulleys, balloons, and levers to design escape routes, players free the robot by tapping his path to safety. It could be an interesting take on the for-kids contraptions game; unfortunately unrealistic physics, poor controls, repetitive boards, and a sense that luck is more important than thought or skill make it hard to sink one’s teeth into it at any age.

The game is simple. Objects come in three colors: green pieces are fixed and immovable, red pieces vanish when tapped, and blue piece move, but only when another object moves too, allowing it to drop. The goal is to remove the red pieces in order to clear a path for Chuck to fall off the screen without hitting too many red pieces.

Sound easy? It is, because Chuck the Bot is sold as a kid’s game. But unless they mean toddlers for whom just randomly tapping might be satisfying, the same things that bothered me as a adult player will frustrate a child. How can I be certain? I tested the game with my nine-year-old son and his friends who found it as tiresome as I did – and for the same reasons.

One shared complaint is about the poor controls. Tapping away random red pieces is easy, but when it comes to tapping on, say, a red block that is attached to a ball it’s as likely that the ball will burst or just stays put, as it is to fall down and trigger the required domino effect. In other instances getting Chuck to safety requires him dropping onto objects spinning so quickly timing isn’t possible. And the physics just don’t feel right. Gravity doesn’t seem to affect Chuck as much as it does other objects.

Chuck the Bot has one perk. There is a level editor, giving it some of the sandbox quality that’s missing from the regular gameplay. It also allows players to try puzzles designed by other players which adds replay value.

Chuck the Bot needs to focus in on its demographic. If it is intended as a young child’s game, the solutions need to be more obvious and logical. If it’s intended for older kids, the developers need to up the challenge. And for any age group, accurate physics and good controls are a must.


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