Hundreds for iPad and iPhone review

It's one of those concepts that any aspiring game designer will regard with envy, and that's even before all the additional air of cryptic mystery in Hundreds. The concept - so simple, yet opening itself to many permutations is this: you complete each level by making a number reach 100. This is done by tapping on bubbles, which grow the number inside as you do. If one of the bubbles collides with anything else while you're touching it, it's game over. This grows from the intuitive simplicity of a couple of bubbles bouncing lazily around to fiendish contraptions, swarms of 'enemy' bubbles, having to touch bubbles in perfect tandem and, oh, all sorts. You'll succeed often, you'll fail often, you'll try again every single time, but what you'll never do is predict what the next level will be like.

It probably sounds boring on paper/pretend paper. It probably looks it too, with those stark circles and digits. It's very much a game to be played, not described, as that's the only true way to experience its consistent cleverness and to become sucked into that curiously atmospheric, minimalist world of light and sound. It's very tempting to describe Hundreds as 'dreamlike', but if so it's a dream in which the logic centres of your brain are fully operational.

Perhaps the smartest aspect of it how little it tells you. A couple of sentences in the early levels introduce the basic danger to be avoided, but the rest you naturally figure yourself, purely thanks to visual stimuli and immediate trial and error. The elegance of its design is remarkable - simple shifts in the colour and size of those geometric objects tell you all you need to know, without your having to so much as question what's going on. It's exactly the kind of game to make you miss your bus by mistake, one of those which puts the lie to any claim that touch-screen controls necessitate inferior games, and the accusation that there's nothing new under the gaming sun.

As well as the core logic/momentum/timing puzzles, Hundreds is interspersed with involved, very tough anagram side-missions, which is solve gradually unlock a central mystery, and more levels. This stuff is entirely optional - just as well, as some will find it too arch and an interruption upon the game proper - but it adds to the sense that Hundreds is a genuinely significant game, not a jolly throwaway puzzle. In fact, it's one of the most essential games on the app store, for both casual and dedicated gamers. 

Download Hundreds for iPad and iPhone from the App Store here

OUR VERDICT

Starkly beautiful, oozing cleverness without being smug about it and miraculously pulling surprise after surprise from an ostensibly very simple concept, puzzle game Hundreds is one of the best games of the year - even if we have only just begun it. You've a far finer mind than we do if you can solve all the bonus anagram challenges, though.

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