iOS is a competitive market for casual games. Physics-based puzzle games, in particular, are dime a dozen so standing out from the crowd and offering a unique experience is certainly difficult for developers. But that’s what Nravo aims to do with Lightomania, available now for iPhone and iPad.
Lightomania is a puzzle game centered around charming, colorful characters called “lightomaniacs” who are desperate to steal light bulbs. It is your job to guide them to the light source using the furry little creatures’ tongues as catapults. Pull the tongue, pick the trajectory, and release to make a jump. You can also utilise the environment, such as sticky surfaces and rotating platforms, and bounce off of other lightomaniacs to travel twice as far.
Shooting cute little fuzzballs is not all there is to Lightomania, though. You have to get to the light bulb within a set number of jumps to progress to the next level. You also have to collect lightning bolts on your way in order to earn wings in order to unlock the next pack of puzzles.
Gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has experienced games in this category before and is not particularly unique. Instead, the developers have focused on the characterization and visuals found in Lightomania as main differentiators which works for the most part.
The graphics and physics of Lightomania are terrific. The characters are cute and bright, animations are smooth and each environment is nicely designed with tons of interactive elements. On the iPad’s larger canvas, the experience is particularly immersive. A lot of thought has also gone into the soundtrack and sound effects which represent each location well and add to the whimsical feel of the app.
The game is optimized really well for children. It starts off easy, with difficulty increasing as you make your way through each level. The introductory tutorial outlines the basics of the game and you are soon on your way. As you go, you’ll begin to encounter more difficult obstacles and hazardous objects making sure you have to think a little bit and use some logic before you send your lightomaniac flying. Video walkthroughs are available for each puzzle if you are stuck, although these come at the cost of an in-app purchase ($1.99/£1.49) which may not please parents – my main qualm with this “kid-friendly” app. Perhaps there should be a way to earn a certain amount of walkthroughs by playing the game.
Currently, Lightomania features three packs of levels, 54 puzzles to complete in total, with another pack labelled as “coming soon”. Integration with Game Center is present with a number of achievements to be earned and the ability to challenge friends.
As far as physics-based puzzle games go, Lightomania is a solid and polished effort. It is fun to play, easy to get into and pretty addictive. It’s perfect for younger players or anyone looking for a casual game to waste away a few minutes at a time. I’m not sure it will be capable of challenging the big players in the casual game arena, the likes of Cut the Rope or Where’s My Water?, but it is certainly enjoyable and well produced and the cute characters are sure to be a hit with most players.
The good: Lightomania brings terribly cute characters and a terrific visual and sonic experience to the tried and tested physics puzzler.
The bad: Gameplay is a little samey and the in-app purchase for video walkthroughs may undermine the kid-friendly vibe.
The verdict: Lightomania is certainly a good purchase for fans of casual, puzzle games on iOS. If you allow the cute characters and immersive environments to draw you in, and are not put off by the perhaps unoriginal gameplay, then the game is certainly a fun experience. Lightomania is well designed, well built, and enjoyable and addictive in equal measure. Lightomania is available for iPhone and iPad now for $0.99/£0.69 or try out six levels on the free version to get a feel for it.
NOTE: This app review is provided as part of PhoneDog’s sponsored app review program. More information can be found at http://www.phonedogmedia.com.