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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel

Bob Came In Pieces
August 17, 2010 | Jon Carr

Click to enlarge

Bob Knows How To Break The Ice

Mac OS X: 10.4.11 | CPU: Intel Processor | RAM: 1 GB | Hard Disk: 500 MB | Graphics: 128 MB Video RAM and Shader Model 2.0

by Jon Carr

Bob Came in Pieces is a casual title from Ludosity Interactive, that also happens to be their first retail title on the Mac or PC. The lighthearted physics puzzler places you in the role of Bob, a squiggly green alien whose ship crashes on the way to work. It's your task to find the scattered pieces of his ship and get him off the planet while solving puzzles along the way.

The first thing you will notice is the pleasant music. There's only one track throughout the game but it never gets repetitive. The graphics stick out next. They are not great, but fairly charming, and in moments reminiscent of something like Team Fortress 2. The game uses 3D models in a 2D side-scrolling setting and features a good mix of colors and shading. This visual style makes things stand out, as well as gives the backgrounds a layered effect.

The game progresses in chapters with typewriter-like notes of Bob's thoughts on each loading screen. The goal of each level is to make it to the portal at the end while collecting as many parts as possible along the way. Naturally this starts out simple as you go through the tutorial levels, but later becomes more difficult as you progress. Some of the levels also feature a theme such as using a specific type of ship part to solve most of the puzzles, breaking objects, or moving items around.

You control your ship entirely with the arrow keys which is good at first, but leads to some control annoyances later on. You can also remap any ship thruster or beam to whatever key you want by landing on conveniently located ship pads. This is something you will have to do to solve some of the puzzles as you rearrange your ship in interesting, but often simple ways. The game's premise is built upon physics puzzles, and while they are interesting and fun you certainly won't be cracking your head to solve them either. Many involve pushing or pulling an object, burning a barrier in the way (by giving your ship an extended arm with a burner at the end, for example), or pulling around rocks and boxes to put weight on a certain spot or object so you can progress. Aside from puzzles there are pieces of Bob's ship scattered around levels for you to find. Some are obvious, and some are hidden, while others require getting through a tricky puzzle to obtain them.

Learning how to use the various ship parts and angles, and balancing or unbalancing your ship can be a little delicate at first, but it does encourage some creative thinking, largely involving basic physics. It can also be fun to just play with crazy ship builds and fly around, though its never needed. Given you only have 4 controls this can lead to having to use both hands on the keyboard to pull off some of the more complicated puzzles that require you to use all 4 arrow keys at once. It works, but it is always awkward.

The ship customization screen is easy to use, and fairly in-depth. It presents you with your current ship layout or build on one side, and your parts on another. Adding or removing parts is as simple as drag and drop, and you can use the mouse scroll wheel to rotate parts a certain way before snapping them on or in. There are also handy buttons for saving and loading ship designs, meaning you can create presets to quickly load up later to solve a recurring puzzle, or perhaps a favorite booster layout. It even gives you undo and redo buttons if you want to use them, and a clone tool which I never figured out and consequently never needed to finish the game.


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