Hundreds Uses Basic Physics to Grow Puzzling Circles of Delight
The musical score is great and the challenges are surprisingly seductive. Some challenges might require two fingers or some sort of multitouch effort to grow multiple circles at the same time. So you'll need to have nimble fingers. Fortunately, nimble isn't always the only thing that will solve a puzzle, which is where your brain comes in.
Hundreds, a game by Semi Secret Software, is available in the iTunes App Store for US$2.99.
It's not so often that I notice a newly released game or app rocket to a high-profile position in the iTunes App Store, but Hundreds, a puzzle game, seemingly debuted in the App Store as an Editor's Choice for the iPad version.
Supposedly, the game is designed for people ages 2 to 222, so I figured it ought to work for a guy whose fingers are slow and mind only incrementally faster. With its high user ratings and a clean, elegant design, I had to try it.
While I'm not sure a two-year-old human could play this game, I've so far been able to do well enough to remain pleased and delighted. So how does Hundreds work?
An Incremental Puzzle Game
Hundreds is based on the premise that if you touch and hold a round circle that is labeled with a "0" inside of it, the circle will quickly grow in size, ramping up the number inside the circle at the same time. When that number reaches 100 -- or when multiple circles add up to 100 -- you complete the level and move on to a new puzzle.
As you might expect, there's some basic physics involved -- your circles might move fast or slow, bounce off other circles or bounce off walls or even spin around while connected by lines between two circles. If you are growing one circle while touching it, it turns red, and if you touch another circle or similar object while your circle is growing, you lose the round and start over. A fast graphic element will zoom in and visually show you the two pieces touching, and say something like, "If they touch when red then you are dead."
Don't fret though, you'll lose and start each round over and over again. Fortunately, on my iPad 2, the game is fast. You get to start the round over so quickly that it's hard to get irritated -- at least, for the first 24 rounds or so this is the case. After about one-third into the 100 rounds of the game, I ran into a few challenges that took me dozens of tries to get right. After a certain number of fails, though, Hundreds will let you skip the round and try a new one.
To make the puzzles more challenging, you might get a lot of moving circles to grow, and since they can't touch each other while growing, you might have to grow several circles to add up to 100. In another puzzle, you might only have two balls and need to figure out how to get them up to a collective 100 in size. Along the way, Hundreds introduces new elements to figure out and use or avoid. For instance, spinning saw blades can poke a circle back to zero, while a little "pause" like icon button might allow you to drag and move them to bounce your circles around -- usually toward open space and away from danger.
Whenever a new element is introduced, Hundreds gives you a very simple round to see the element and understand the effect. The first few times this happens, you'll think, "Oh, well, that round wasn't so hard. What gives?" And the very next round will use the new effect and be much harder to complete. In this way, Hundreds manages to bring the player along, teaching you to use new strategies and techniques.
Fast Fingers and a Faster Mind
As for the experience, the musical score is great and the challenges are surprisingly seductive. Some challenges -- and strategies within a level -- might require two fingers or some sort of multitouch effort to grow multiple circles at the same time. So you'll need to have nimble fingers. Fortunately, nimble isn't always the only thing that will solve a puzzle, which is where your brain comes in.
For me, I'd find myself frantically trying to grow the circles -- failing again and again -- only to realize that maybe I didn't need four 25-size circles when I could use some patience and instead separate a few sized 10 circles to give me room to grow a 70 to reach 100.
I should note, though, that your epiphanies during this game are not likely to be all that cerebral, which might be why I like the game: If you're like me, you'll figure out a strategy without turning it into something concrete inside your mind. Because you're learning on the fly, your strategy shifts on the fly and there isn't time to really think about what you're doing.
Of course, when I get up into the harder puzzles near the end, I might have to take a step back -- but so far, I must say the reactive combination of touch action with intuitive strategy is surprisingly satisfying.