If Rovio’s Amazing Alex looks familiar, there’s a good reason. Rovio actually bought the rights for the excellent puzzler Casey’s Contraptions, and reskinned and rebranded the game into something with a bit more flash. While this isn’t a level-for-level clone, the gameplay is virtually identical. There is one major advantage Alex has over Casey though–you can actually buy this game. Rovio took Casey off the App Store right after buying the rights. Make of that what you will.
Casey’s Contraptions was a great game, and by sticking so identically to the source material, Amazing Alex retains the same fun, Rube Goldberg-inspired gadget puzzles. Alex is entertaining and offers plenty of levels, plus it comes with the creation kit right from the start. The game is packed with 100 levels, offering an array of pipe, shelf, balloon, and ball puzzling gameplay.
Wreck your stuff.
The general goal is get specific objects from point A to B, and Alex manages to convey the goal without unnecessary text, which is an improvement over the original game. Each level gives players a few items to place into a semi-complete puzzle. There are three stars in each level as well, which can be collected when any moving thing touches them.
Place and rotate shelves and pipes, place spring-loaded boxing gloves to set balls in motion, or just use gravity to complete the vast array of mental exercises. Rovio has streamlined the controls in subtle ways so that everything can be accomplished with one finger instead of the occasional multi-touch commands (such as rotating) from Casey.
On the other hand, whereas Casey had charming graphics with a quaint, hand-drawn look, Alex loses some personality with its much more polished, Disney-esque motif. Alex is a generic, snarky looking kid with goofy hair. There’s no actual story and Alex is hardly on screen, but the game has a definite feeling of being shined up for mass consumption.
Another issue is the uneven difficulty and pacing. The first set of levels feels like an extended tutorial, which is fine for newcomers. Fans of Casey or the Incredible Machine, however, will find it somewhat tedious to have to breeze through 16 levels before even a hint of challenge starts. Beyond that, as the levels progress, one puzzle might be mind-numbingly challenging, while the very next is simplistic again.
Unlike the iPad-only Casey’s Contraptions, Amazing Alex is incredibly cross-platform. The game is available on the iPad, iPhone, and even Android devices. This deluge of cross-platform madness is especially great because players will never be at a loss for new content. The creation kit has already spawned hundreds of downloadable levels–some of which are exceptionally clever–and there are undoubtedly hundreds more on the way.
We loved Casey’s Contraptions, and Alex is a worthwhile replacement. The game doesn’t have quite the same charm, but there’s no doubt that Rovio worked out some of the bumps in the interface and controls. The massive amount of both included and downloadable levels adds plenty of appeal as well. Most importantly, Amazing Alex is fun. The gadget-based puzzles are entertaining to solve and still a great choice for players of all ages.