Thursday, January 9, 2014

Update: Sky Scramble 1.5

Sky Scramble, one (in this humble reviewer's opinion) of the top 10 games of 2013, was recently updated with major changes.
While the most obvious change is the addition of a title screen (above) and changes to the star graphics so that they are more colorful, the most important change is the order of the levels.

In my original review, I pointed out how the level order was very unconventional: instead of a simple progress from easy to hard puzzles, you'd get groups of three puzzles with the same topology, but increasing difficulty:
While this was great from a mathematical point of view, it wasn't the best choice for gameplay, because it exposed the player to harder puzzles too soon, and because it caused the same layout to be played three times in a row; even if the difficulty was different, it could get boring. So now the puzzles are ordered in a more conventional way:
Additionally, the way how in-app purchases work is simpler. Previously you would earn stars by solving puzzles, and used them to unlock further packs, but even if you solved all puzzles perfectly you would reach a point where you would have to buy more stars to unlock the remaining packs.

Now the puzzles are simply split in 6 packs of 30 puzzles each. The first one is free, the others can be unlocked individually through in-app purchases, or you can unlock all of them with a single purchase. If you upgrade from a previous version, some of the packs will be already unlocked.

Finally, a small but significant change which I like is that if you track back your moves while solving a puzzle, it is as if you had tapped the undo button, so the move count decreases and the recorded solution (which you can play back after solving the puzzle) will not contain the redundant moves. This makes it easier to get decent star ratings without having to use the undo button every time you make a mistake, so the experience is smoother and more satisfying.

Overall, this is an excellent update; if you had put the game aside, it's worth looking at it again.

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