Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Developer: Semi Secret
Format: iOS

Score: 8.0

Semi Secret’s auto-runner classic Canabalt was the first game I played on my iPhone, and although it’s intelligent execution proved to be a false dawn for my own future experiences with iOS games – it turned out that very few were as addictive and pure in such a joyously un-cynical fashion - it‘s innate understanding of touch control gaming has fed into their latest iOS release, Hundreds.

Canabalt married perpetual movement with one simple action: jump. Every touch of your device’s screen would send the running man into the air, the length and power of his jump determined by the amount of time spent holding your finger down, with the aim of the game being how far you could make the unnamed runner survive leaping over obstacles and between skyscrapers. It was twitch gaming in the most direct sense, with all other considerations apart from that one control mechanism taken out of the equation. On my iPhone’s screen it worked beautifully.

Hundreds is diametrically opposite in nearly every sense to Canabalt, though both titles have a fine grasp of physics. Whereas the earlier Canabalt was manic and reliant on reaction, Hundreds is cerebral and, at first, almost calming in its approach. Each round in Hundreds (yes, there are 100 of them) is cleared by using the circles on screen to grow the total number of points to, yep, 100. You do this by holding your finger down on one of the numbered circles until it, or a combination of several circles, reach the magic number. The numbered circles will often float within the white space of the screen; it’s very easy to spend time just watching them serenly bounce around.

Complications arise, in the manner of all the finest puzzle games, gradually. First you’re introduced to the fundamental rule: “If They Touch When Red Then You Are Dead”. When you hold down your finger on a numbered circle, it turns red as the numbers rise. Should the circle touch anything else on screen whilst red then the game is over. So far, so simple. But soon you’re confronted with the likes of saws (which reduce the count of any circle they come into contact with to zero), immovable circles and sets of two-circles connected by a line (these need two fingers to activate). The later puzzles will use a combination of such obstacles in an escalating challenge that is, given the game’s minimal looks, like an Aperture Science lab project created by The Designers Republic.

Refreshingly open-ended (a number of subsequent rounds will unlock in case you find yourself stuck on a particularly tough puzzle), self-enclosed (there are no microtransactions) and conceptually perfect, Hundreds is the first great game of 2013. 

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