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Amazing Alex: app of the day
What is it?
A revamped version of an existing iOS physics-puzzle game called Casey's Contraptions, where you have to string household junk together to create chain reactions to solve 100 levels.
The ability to create your own levels and share them with friends and other players - as well as play the levels they've been making.
Amazing Alex is a game that arrives to amazingly high expectations. It's the first non-Angry Birds game released by Rovio for smartphones and tablets, and with more than 900m downloads so far of its feathery franchise, the new arrival has a lot to live up to.
That said, Amazing Alex isn't a brand new game. It started life as an iOS game called Casey's Contraptions released by a pair of independent developers. They sold it to Rovio earlier this year, and the company has spent the months since then revamping it. So long Casey, hello Alex.
The gameplay will be familiar to gamers of a certain age, too: you string together household objects to solve puzzles, a lot like you might have done in The Incredible Machine - a PC game first released in 1992.
Plenty of people will be new to the idea, though, and it's very fun. Amazing Alex starts off simply with a few objects and an obvious task to solve, but steadily introduces more household junk to build with, and thornier puzzles.
The genre is well suited to touchscreens, and the difficulty level is pitched about right in the early stages to get you hooked. You drag and drop objects onto the screen, then hit a play button to see how the level plays out. Then repeat until you achieve your goal.
The main niggle is that on smartphone screens, fine-tuning the position of objects can be fiddly - they're under your finger. The more you play, the less you'll mind.
The game uses a star system to rate your progress: you're trying to collect three stars on each level. The ability to NOT collect them all means more casual players can still progress, just as they could in Angry Birds through its three-star system.
The inclusion of an editor is a nice touch too. Not because everybody will create Amazing Alex levels - physically creating levels is easy, but the mental task of creating satisfying levels is much harder - but because a few players will make marvellous ones that everybody else can play.
Is Amazing Alex going to be as popular as Angry Birds? Probably not. Is Alex an engaging enough character to become a cartoon show and toys? Maybe: it's hard to tell. He's not really part of the action in the same way that the Angry Birds are in their games, but comic-strip interludes hint at some potential.
Still, Amazing Alex is good fun: polished, playable and set to get a steady flow of new levels to keep people interested.