Pretty much every week, new puzzle games hit the App Store. It becomes increasingly hard to find innovative titles or puzzle games that are just plain fun. Is the game too hard? Too easy? Do I even care to get past the first twenty-plus stages? Help Me Fly [$0.99] from Funtomic is probably one of the smartest puzzle games I’ve played in a good while. The cartoonish visuals may seem like the game was designed for kids, but this title is filled with circuitry delights that will appeal to even the most diligent, puzzle-solving aficionado.
The premise of this game is simple. Your biplane has run out of power. You’ve got to create a circuit that connects your biplane to a battery so that your pilot can take off. Middle school science teachers around the nation should be pleased by this game, which uses a bit of trickery to get you into the electrical side of science. Like all puzzle titles, the first few puzzles are about teaching you the mechanics of this game. The first fifteen out of sixty puzzles are definitely on the tutorial side. But then things start to get really intriguing.
You’ve got Tetris-like blocks, which serve as the wires in the circuit. Some of these blocks can be rotated, while others can’t be moved at all. And of course, the blocks are dropped in deceptive positions, which will lead you to approaching the solution from the wrong angle. Regardless of how tricky the puzzle, I was anxious to solve it merely to hear the pilot scream, “Wooohooo,” when his biplane took off. It never got old, especially with the cheerful music bed.
Although Help Me Fly doesn’t try to explicitly teach the nuances of circuitry, there is an air of education in this game, if not just in theory. Electrical fields and switches are introduced. All of a sudden resistors are thrown into the mix that stop you from getting your circuit to work. You’ve got to connect your battery to the switch in order to turn off an electric field. Complexity starts to increase when multiple, color-coded electrical fields are introduced. I don’t know why, but it reminded me of playing one of those hacking mini games in Deus Ex: Human Revolution or fixing a circuit in Dead Space.
Of course, no puzzle game would be interesting without a few stars to collect along the way. Try as you might to solve several puzzles, connecting all stars to the circuit with the limited number of blocks can be a hair-pulling experience. However, if you really love puzzle games, you’ll find that esoteric solution and collect every last star. Plus, you’ll have to collect those stars to unlock all the later levels.
There's no shortage of puzzle games on the App Store, but I can say that Help me Fly is one of the truly worthwhile ones. It’s not so much that it’s innovative, but just that it’s got a really cool scientific style. I can’t wait for Funtomic to release more maps. What I’m hoping for are a few larger circuits that allow me to scroll or resize my screen. Additional batteries along with actual resistors/capacitors would also be cool if presented in a clever way. They folks on our forums are loving this game so be sure to check out what our puzzle readers are saying.