Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blast-A-Way [Illusion Labs] - $4.99

Physics-puzzlers. Just saying the words can make some gamers cringe. Over the last few years, the AppStore has been overrun with the genre. But recently, we’ve been seeing this genre expand, bringing some life back into the bland and repetitive physics puzzler. Great examples of this are Band Together, Pebble Universe, GasketBall, Chicken Raid, Sola Rola, Splash!, Follow the Rabbit and Draw Breaker, among more. Well, adding to this list, and jumping up to the very top of it is a development company that has been around the AppStore for a while now; Illusion Labs (developers of Sway, Touchgrind BMX, Labyrinth 2 and more). Their new title, Blast-A-Way, is a sort of mix between iBlast Moki 2, Plight of the Zombie, Gesundheit and even a bit of Portal. 

Blast-A-Way has you controlling three robots who are trying to collect little creatures known as Boxies, who happened to be blown all over their world when a freak accident happened while climbing Sticky Bomb Monument. Armed with nothing but the bombs that are scattered throughout the world, it’s up to you to bring the Boxies home. 
You’ll start off in the Wood World, where, surprise, everything is made of wood. As you collect Boxies, the other worlds open up, letting you move on even if you haven’t completed all of the previous world’s levels. There are 5 separate worlds, each with 16 levels, and all having different environmental looks. After the Wood World, you’ll move on to Metal Mania, Fabric Fanatic, Stone Supreme and end with Plastic Paranoia. Like so many other games before it, Blast-A-Way has a 3 ‘star’ ranking, which is determined by how many Boxies you’re able to collect in each stage. With 80 levels, and 240 Boxies to collect, Blast-A-Way will keep you busy for quite some time. 

Using the bombs that are laid out in each stage, you’ll need to blow up certain bricks that are either holding Boxies, holding different types of bombs or blocking your way to the level’s exit. There are multiple bombs that you’ll come across while progressing through the game, like a Contact Bomb, which blows up on contact, a Sticky Bomb, which sticks to any surface, a Transport Bomb that teleports you wherever it lands, a Rebuilding Bomb that reconstructs broken bricks and more. Each of these bombs are only compatible with bricks of the same color. That means that if you throw a blue Sticky Bomb onto a green surface, none of the green surface will be destroyed. But if there’s a blue brick right next to the green surface, it will get blown to bits. There are also different colored force field type objects that, when a bomb is thrown through them, the bomb changes color. All of this thrown in makes for some very interesting and unique level designs, and with the very well thought out puzzles that litter the game, it gets to be very entertaining, as well as challenging. 

The controls are designed to fit the touch screen; tap on a robot and draw a line to move them, to pick up or change bombs, simply walk over them, to rotate the screen, drag anywhere outside of the level’s platforms, to scroll the level, drag on the level’s platforms, and to move the level up and down, touch two fingers on the screen and drag either up or down. You can also zoom in and out by pinching the screen, and double tapping on an object will give you a better view of it. To throw bombs, you just tap on the object you want to hit, and hold down. A gauge will pop up, determining the angle that you’ll throw the bomb at the object, either straight at it, or by tossing it up and over other objects. 

Graphically, Blast-A-Way looks great. The minimal look of everything is very reminiscent of Portal, and with each world having a different look, there’s a big splash of Illusion Labs own touch thrown in for good measure. The robots look like they were designed by Pixar, and the sound effects fit this as well. The soundtrack fit’s the game well enough, however, having some more down tempo/ambient tracks would have done a better job at setting the mood. 

GameCenter is supported, but there are no leaderboards. This isn’t surprising, considering there’s no time-limits or scoring system to be found within the game either. There are 7 achievements, with the one that will take the longest being ‘rescure 240 Boxies’. Some more creativity with the achievements, and a scoring or timing system would have added quite a bit of replay value to the game, even after getting all 3 Boxies in each stage, and hopefully we’ll see something like this added in the future. It’s kind of disappointing that a game with this much polish doesn’t include these. However, it’s still a great buy, even priced at $4.99. It’s price point is no real surprise. Illusion Lab’s games are basically all priced the same, and with Blast-A-Way being Universal, and the very, VERY rare sales that Illusion Labs has shows that they have faith in their products. And they should. There is not one Illusion Labs title that I have been disappointed with yet. If you’re looking for something that will get you back into the Physics-Puzzler genre, look no further. Blast-A-Way contains an insane amount of polish, is incredibly entertaining, and will have you hooked after the first 5 levels. 


Awesome review. This and Splice were the only two games I bought this week, thanks to your site. I totally agree that this isone of the very few newer physics games tht has the potential of getting people back into the genre.

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