Sticky Sheep is an intuitive puzzler that attempts to answer the age-old question: What happens when you combine pool, sheep, and canines? Chillingo’s physics-based puzzler deftly demonstrates how this combination of animals and a familiar pastime can actually work, and does quite a commendable job.
Baxter the beagle has been tasked with rounding up the errant sheep who have wandered away from their homes, but this mutt uses his head more than your typical sheepdog. It’s your job to launch Baxter into each fluffy runaway, knocking them into several target areas on the playing field. This is the reason why cuddly little Baxter is clad in a crash helmet.
The Zidane school of sheep-herding.
Simple touch control allows you to drag Baxter backwards to adjust power and trajectory, then launch him hurtling toward a sheep. The more force behind your push, the further Baxter will travel. Likewise, the more force you apply, the harder Baxter will collide with each sheep. Knocking each sheep into a target zone nets you a certain amount of points relative to how close you managed to end up to the target. The sheep move sluggishly, so it can often be a feat to ensure they hit the center of each target.
Thankfully, close calls and “almost there” tosses are close enough to count. It’s still a good idea to aim as closely to the center of each green area as possible, as dead-center tosses award you several medals as well as sightly more points.
Not only will you contend with the environments (lush farmland, deserts, and more), but you’ll be faced with several obstacles that stand in the way of Baxter’s sheep-herding progress. Electrified fences, bumpers, and other impediments will give you a run for your money. There are also switches that must be flipped to open gates and reveal other parts of each area.
Extra points for whacking the yak.
Sticky Sheep gives you a fixed amount of tries to pass each level, and plenty of meta-challenges within, such as aiming to collect each coin that appears. There are plenty of incentive to keep you coming back for more, but it’s unfortunate that your greatest enemy at times is Baxter himself. Baxter often rolls at an odd speed, continuing to roll long after normal physics would have stopped him. This can turn a perfectly-executed push into a botched turn. It’s frustrating, to be sure, and can often swing a great Baxter-launch into a mediocre one. Score hunters and perfectionists will take issue with these physics, but it’s a minor gripe for anyone else.
Vivid colors and bright tunes accompany you during what will inevitably be quick bursts of gameplay, and Baxter’s design, along with the fuzzy sheep he’s herding, is “aww”-inducing. It’s a shame the real estate on screen isn’t always used wisely. Target areas are often clustered in one place, and half the screen is full of bright green pastures for you to roll into by accident. For a game that brings to mind classic minigolf courses, there’s so much more that could have been done with the extra space.
Still, Sticky Sheep is a cute puzzler that allows for plenty of mistakes. Even not-so-puzzle-savvy players can jump right in and have a blast. Plus, how often do you get to toss adorable canines at sheep? You may want to refrain from doing it in real life, though.