App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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I'm a sucker for cutesy iOS games; I could eat up the likes of Cut the Rope and Tiny Wings all day long, although it's not the colourful backgrounds and big-eyed characters that keep me coming back to those games but the challenging play that's belied by the cuteness. While it's not quite in the same league as those games, I do get the same vibe with Futuremark's top-down puzzler Hungribles.
Often these cutesy puzzle games seem to involve feeding little critters, and as the name suggests Hungribles is no exception. Using a catapult-like pellet, primed and aimed by pulling my finger back and across the screen, I can shoot purple pieces of fruit towards the Hungrible creatures and feed them the numbers of fruit aindicated by little thought bubbles over their heads. The twist is that the Hungribles have their own weak orbits and gravitational pulls which distort the direction of my catapulted fruit; aim a fruit right and it can enter a Hungribles' orbit in one direction and then be turned and shot out at 270 degrees.
When the Hungribles and their orbits are close together the direction of shots can change dramatically, chicaning and bouncing around the level like a crazy thing. Also, not all the Hungribles behave the same way. Some have a repellent force that reflects fruits shot at it, while other Hungribles lose their orbits when fed. While Hungribles starts off a little slow as it gently introduces its mechanics, it's the introduction of these different Hungribles and the different ways they're used across the 40 main puzzles and 20 bonus puzzles that give the game some spark. There's a very impressive variety of puzzles, some requiring step-by-step solutions as you alter and remove orbits by feeding the Hungribles, while others require clever timing or a tricky skill shot; clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design of the puzzles.
The only thing letting down the game is the way it controls. There's an imprecision with aiming the pellet, especially when the view is zoomed out across a larger, busier level. Futuremark is clearly aware of the issue because by pressing down with two fingers you can aim more precisely, but it's very fiddly and still rather sensitive. Maybe using a second finger to fire might have been a better work-around to avoid finger slip upon release affecting aim, but I suspect the very nature of the game was always going to produce fiddly controls.
Despite this frustration, Hungribles keeps a smile on my face as I feed those lovable little whatever-they-ares. With new levels coming soon, this could be another game with a lot to give behind its cute complexion.