Tuesday, November 9, 2010

App O' The Mornin': Floop Review

Grade: B
Price: $1

Floop is an uneven physics puzzler that isn't always easy to love. The goal is to get an object into the mouth a critter on the opposite side of the level. At the beginning, the critter in question is a squirrel, and the object is an acorn. As you earn earn stars you also unlock a mouse with his cheese, and a gorilla with his banana.

The control is a simple touch/pullback combination. When you touch the object, a line shows the path it will follow. Draw your finger back further for a more powerful, set the angle, and let 'er rip. It's a pretty common ballistic mechanism, and it works fine.

The puzzle element comes from a combination of the environment and the physics modeling. There are plenty of obstacles and environmental modifiers. Some are fixed, and some can be slightly repositioned when hit by the object. Some surfaces slip or cause modest chain reactions, while others destroy your object.

The weirdness comes from the behavior of the objects, which feels kind of wonky. Everything is a little too bouncy, with reactions akin to Jelly Car. This is not really a problem, but it takes a little time to get used to the way each item behaves in the world. Adding to the challenge is the fact that each object behaves differently depending upon its shape. The cheese is square, the acorn is kind of oblong with a hat, and the banana is ... banana-shaped. The shape effects the way a shot will bounce and roll, and creates a different dynamic for each level.

It takes a bit of time to warm up to Floop, and there's a random trial-and-error element that I don't usually like to see in my puzzlers.

Also: I don't know why, but I don't like angry-looking animals in my apps. I like cute. I like Kiko and Starcat. I'm sure this was attempt to capture the Angry Birds vibe, but it doesn't work here. That squirrel looks like he's about to foam at the mouth, run up my pants leg, and do something awful to me. (By the way, squirrels? Not cute. Squirrels are lawn rats, and no amount of Cute Overload pictures will convince me otherwise.)

That said, I did wind up kind of liking Floop. It has plenty of levels and decent production values, and it certainly offers plenty of gameplay for a buck. If the notion of a ballistic puzzler with Jelly Car physics sounds interesting to you, then have at it.


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