Sunday, 3 March 2013

Review: Spin Mix for iPhone and iPad

Ivan Vassilev has created many puzzle games for iPhone and iPad. I've played all of them, and my favorite is Spin Mix.

This is a sequential movement puzzle, but with a clever twist.
The playing area is a 5x5 grid, populated with some dots. Resting with their ends on some dots, are some pieces, whose length can be 1 or 2 units.
One of the pieces is red. The goal is to move it over the red dots.
Usually, in this kind of puzzles you slide the pieces around. The most famous example is Rush Hour, which is possibly the most plagiarized puzzle of all time.
In Spin Mix, instead, the pieces rotate around one of their ends. You can only rotate them at 90 degrees angles, they cannot intersect each other, and the ends must always rest on the dots. This produces some interesting mechanics.

The game contains 274 puzzles, sorted by the optimal number of moves needed to solve them, which roughly maps to the difficulty. Puzzle 1 requires 11 moves, puzzle 274 requires 79 moves.
Unfortunately the puzzles have clearly been computer generated with no apparent human filtering. Often times, two consecutive puzzles are identical, apart from some minor change which has a negligible effect on the solution. While the mechanics are original and interesting, they get repetitive after a while, so I would have preferred a smaller set of puzzles with more variation. Thankfully, all puzzles are unlocked from the start, so you are free to skip some if you feel bored.

I don't really like the options menu, which is a bit confusing and offers too many irrelevant options. Also, the game supports Game Center leaderboards, but you have to manually post your score by tapping on the button labelled "G.C.", so hardly anyone will do that.
While solving a puzzle, there's support for undo/redo, but there is some bug which occasionally corrupts the board putting pieces in illegal positions like this:
In conclusion, I really like the mechanics of this game, but the implementation leaves a bit to be desired, and could use some more polish.
Still, it's free, so it's worth a try.

Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★★☆☆
User Interface★★★☆☆
Presentation★★☆☆☆
Loading Time★★★☆☆
Saves Partial Progress
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