Version Reviewed: 1.0
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There is certainly no shortage of physics-based puzzle games on the iPhone. Whether it’s balancing, stacking, or toppling, the platform has a considerable amount of apps for those who like to tempt gravity. Finger Physics tries to make its mark in this growing genre, and its secret weapon is variety. With many different modes and variants of the usual game types, Finger Physics is a quality package that keeps things fresh with its diversity, and it offers a nice breadth of challenge for the price of admission.
Finger Physics is comprised of 9 sets of 9 puzzles, for a total of 81 levels. Each set contains a mix of 5 different puzzle types called Egg Mode, Lawn Mode, Lunar Mode, Underwater Mode and Free Mode. In Egg Mode, you must guide an egg into a small basket by destroying various shapes below it and sending assorted objects into motion. This is sometimes accomplished by just removing some shapes and watching the egg fall, while later levels have you setting off any number of indestructible objects as levies or pendulums used to more skillfully guide the egg.
Lawn Mode has you stack shapes one at a time onto small and precarious ledges. The goal is to build a steady construct that won't topple off the screen, and this is made more difficult by the inconvenient shapes that are doled out. Once you drag the next shape onto the screen, it takes up space and must be maneuvered into position. You cannot rotate the object, which adds to the difficulty. This can be accomplished by skillfully nudging an item off of an existing shape or ledge, and then catching it after it has spun accordingly. Lunar Mode is similar to Lawn Mode, except you need to stack the given shapes as high as possible. The last shape given will be a star, and the total height of your tower with star on top must pass a certain level to complete the puzzle.
In Underwater Mode, the shapes you are given can either float or sink. You need to place them within the level so that the shapes don't rise or fall of the screen. This mode is a pretty unique spin on the physics formula, as you have two competing forces at work. Free Mode is the last puzzle type, and it is only available in two stages near the very end of the game. This mode is a race to see how high you can stack a tower within a given time limit of one minute.
As you progress through the game, each set of puzzles can be mercifully unlocked by completing 6 out of the 9 previous. The puzzles themselves get harder, and new block types are introduced such as magnetic and explosive. Magnetic blocks attract or repel depending on their color, and explosive blocks self-destruct on contact with each other, sending out a disruptive ripple. You are rewarded with a bronze, silver or gold star on completion of a level depending on how fast you finish or how high you build. Finger Physics also supports OpenFeint with 27 achievements to obtain, as well as a leaderboard for the 2 Free Mode levels.
Finger Physics boasts a clean and colorful art style, with nice cardboard cut-out type elements that animate in the background or that can be jiggled with some motion. While definitely pleasant and attractive, the presentation is a bit spartan and lacks a certain amount of pizzazz to make the whole package feel more fleshed-out and energetic. The controls work well, with the occasional finicky section that has a shape you are maneuvering fall off the screen just as you're trying to catch it. And the ability to replay the same level after a successful completion, as well as the ability to pan the camera while not holding a shape, would be welcome additions. All of these gripes are very minor, though, and do little to detract from the core gameplay.
Finger Physics does its best to pull you in and keep you going by offering a variety of game modes, some of which have a pretty unique slant, and it does so at a very modest price. Anyone who is a fan of the physics puzzle genre will get a good amount of challenge and enjoyment out of the game, and may just find that the urge to get a gold star on every level can be quite irresistible.
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