Robo5 for iPhone and iPad
For a game that opens with a somber-looking Nietzsche quotation, Robo5 HD is a pretty light puzzler. Your job in this iPad game from Shanghai Yuguo Software is to move your little robot friend from Point A to Point B by pushing and pulling blocks to make a traversable path; along the way, you collect as much bonus junk as possible.
Robo5 introduces new strategies and mechanics extremely slowly, so the first several levels are mind-numbingly easy. Eventually, though, the difficulty ratchets up significantly. To get top ratings on a level, you’ll have to get the hang of blocks that teleport you, power-ups that control time, and—the most welcome feature in the game—an “undo” button that ensures no mistake is irreversible.
The controls are consistent, if somewhat unintuitive. On some of the rare timed levels, you may find yourself cursing Robo for not moving where you point; he’ll walk several spaces, but he won’t walk, climb, and walk in a straight line. Worse, there’s no way to rotate the camera, which is tough when moving blocks (and Robo) in hard-to-reach places.
The iPad’s HD version is noticeably more playable than Robo5 on the iPhone and iPod touch, as the tiny text was clearly written with a larger screen size in mind. Still, the iPhone version is playable if you’re willing to pinch to zoom at the start of every level. You may lose some of the big picture, but it’ll be a lot easier for the game to recognize where you’re tapping.
Some players may recognize the gameplay as taken directly from the recent console release Catherine, but with a more family-friendly premise. Don’t worry about the story, though. Between vague cut-scenes, occasionally imperfect translation, and an off-screen narrator berating you, the narrative is a semi-unintelligible distraction from some decent puzzles.
[Jason Tocci is a writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.]