Paradox 3000 is a great game for when you want to just shut off your brain and poke around on your iPhone screen. It’s a pipe puzzle game that gives you widely varied difficulty levels to keep you interested, simple gameplay, and, ultimately, more entertainment than you might expect.
Paradox 3000 wants you to solve its energy crisis. In the upper left-hand corner of the screen there’s a generator surrounded by a grid full of tubes. Your job is to route the power through every tube on the board. Each tube is one of a handful of shapes with outlets in different places, so you have to rotate each section of tube to match up with the power flow. The only control you have is to tap a grid box to rotate the piece of tube lying inside of it.
There are two game modes, Arcade and Puzzle. Arcade times your progress and scores your efforts; Puzzle gives you unlimited time to flip tubes to your heart’s content, as well as three difficulty levels. We much preferred Puzzle. The satisfaction of finally solving the harder puzzles was worth the time we had to put into them. There are codes you can obtain and then input to regain your progress if you so desire; we have no idea why the game uses codes, instead of simply saving your progress like most other puzzle games. Perhaps it is because the game screen also allows you to skip any level instantly.
A brief digression may help illustrate the kind of gratification this game can produce. Have you ever read the young adult book Maniac Magee? If you had the pleasure of reading it as a child, then forgive this brief explanation: In one scene, our hero, Jeffrey, is called upon to untie a prodigious and famous knot hanging outside of a pizza parlour. Renowned for this dexterity of mind and finger, Jeffrey’s younger friends become impatient after an hour or so, thinking the knot would become undone almost immediately. Hours later, at dusk, he finally solves the knot and the remaining faithful cheer. In its best moments, Paradox 3000 reminded us of this scene. The little triumphs were just that–triumphant. Such moments of self-satisfaction are hard to come by in the App store.
This isn’t to say the game is perfect. The music is simple, engaging techno, but if you’re really into a puzzle, you’ll soon turn it off in favor of your own tunes. Also, the way in which the puzzle elements light up as you supply them with power looks cool, but there are never any notable changes to the background graphics, and no difference in the tube shapes you’re rotating at any point. Paradox 3000 is a very basic game at its core, in both gameplay and presentation. If you like the pipe puzzle mechanic, you’ll probably appreciate the game’s minimalism; if you like lots of variation to your puzzles, you probably won’t.
Nevertheless, we think Paradox 3000 is a good puzzle game. It’s attractively priced at $2.99, and the replay value is high. It gets our recommendation.