SCRAPS Hands-On Preview

In a case of what has to be the developers deciding on an acronym before thinking up the words it stands for, SCRAPS means “Specialty Construct: Robotic Articulated Property Salvage.” (We tried to say that five times fast, but we bit our tongues).

The game could just as easily be called “Lemmings with Robots,” although to avoid lawsuits it’s probably best that they named it what they did.

Scraps are disposable robots whose sole purpose is to gobble up energy pods, and as the player, it’s your job to direct them toward that goal.

As with any borrowed-concept game worth its salt, developer Amplified Games uses the basic gameplay of its source material as a springboard rather than a blueprint. Unlike Lemmings, you’re not trying to direct your characters from point A to point B while keeping as many alive as possible. In fact, in SCRAPS you can and will destroy plenty of robots as you work them toward the energy pods in any given level. Also unlike Lemmings, many levels have several entry portals that spawn scraps, so you’ll usually be juggling different scraps on opposite sides of the screen.

Instead of having a large menu of actions to help your scraps reach the energy pods, the developers have whittled the options down to three: detonate, create a platform, and activate a switch. Tapping a scrap pulls up the menu, and tapping an action makes that scrap comply as soon it can. Detonating a scrap sacrifices it to destroy a platform, which allows other scraps to fall to platforms below. Creating a platform makes a scrap transform into a piece of metal to cover up a pit. And activating a switch either causes a mobile platform in the level to move, or changes the direction of a conveyor belt.

The conveyor belts and moving platforms add a good deal of challenge to the stages, because you’ll often have to activate switches in a certain order to transport a scrap to an out-of-the-way energy pod. Determining which scrap to send and in what order to activate the switches leads to some head-scratching puzzles in later levels. Trial and error is the key to success here. Luckily, the levels are designed to teach you the game as you play, and the difficulty level increases steadily through all thirty levels.

The developers also included an easy-to-use level creator for you to make your own stages and upload them onto the Juju social networking platform, where players can download other’s levels and rate and comment on them. While only a few user-generated levels were available when we played, we’re sure that if the game is popular enough they’ll soon be spreading like rabbits, leading to a lot of replayability. SCRAPS will be submitted to the App Store any day now, so look for it in the coming weeks.