SCRAPS is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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If you’ve always wanted to play Lemmings, but have found the idea of sending countless living creatures to their deaths slightly disturbing, maybe the soulless machine minions of SCRAPS are more up your alley. SCRAPS, or ‘Specialty Construct: Robotic Articulated Property Salvage’, innovates in the puzzle-platformer genre with some genuinely new gameplay ideas, which almost makes up for its repetitive graphics and sound.

The goal in SCRAPS is to use your robot underlings, also called scraps, to gather all the energy cells in an area, not to lead them to a specific destination unharmed like in Lemmings. Because of this, the scraps end up being more expendable than Lemmings fans are used to. There are a finite number of robots per level; the remaining number of robots is shown on the machine they spawn from, so they still must be treated with care. Just know that in some levels like ‘A Few Dead Scraps’, not all of your automatons may live to see victory.

Often though, scraps will be sacrificed for the greater good. What sets these peons apart is that they’re able to affect the environment in clever ways both hazardous and beneficial, instead of the player manipulating the play field for them. Scraps are created automatically, and once created they move automatically as well. Players wanting more of a challenge can speed up scraps at will.

Tapping on one pauses the game brings up three commands: bomb, platform, and switch. Bomb causes a scrap to explode, destroying certain platforms and creating gaps to fall through. Platform causes a scrap to fill in a gap by turning into a platform which can then be destroyed by another bomb scrap if necessary. Finally, switch causes a scrap to press the button closest to it, activating various color-coded moving and/or holographic platforms.

Some scraps are downright disposable.

The inventive mechanics allow for some very fresh, satisfying level designs. Being able to multitask is essential because not only will you be managing different robots, but also managing one robot who needs to do perform several different functions, sometimes offscreen. Too many times you’ll need to follow a harshly linear sequence in order to succeed, so prepare for some trial and error. Luckily, if you do get stuck, you can always skip a level or watch a video walkthrough.

Where SCRAPS doesn’t feel so fresh is in its presentation. All levels take place in the same gray warehouse, have the same mechanical soundtrack, and use identical scraps (new ones are coming according to the developers). Also, the graphics don’t always illustrate how the puzzle elements work very well. The graphics aren’t bad, but seeing the same cute cartoon robot in the same environment, even if he is solving an awesome puzzle, will only get you so far.

SCRAPS features four worlds with ten levels and the promise of more. Using their Juju Play community, developer Amplified Games has also created an easy way for players to share their custom stages. The included level editor, like all great level editors, offers enough freedom and flexibility for some truly great levels to emerge. Each stage lasts from several seconds to several minutes, so there is a lot of content to potentially experience for your $2.99 purchase.

Scraps is an interesting twist on the Lemmings formula. If you can get past the repetitive visuals and sounds, you’ll find lots of smart, tough, and most importantly, enjoyable puzzles to take on.

More stories on SCRAPS

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.