Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: SpinIn for iPhone and iPad

SpinIn (also for iPad) by Klogia is a new release but looks old—and for good reason.
Confused by the splash screen? Well, don't worry. The actual game looks nothing like that. Actually, there is no "Spin" mechanic at all! Instead, it's a "Tilt" maze.

I've reviewed other tilt mazes in the past, so you know the drill. You can move in any direction, but when you do, all the pieces move in the same direction until they hit a wall. The goal is to make the block with a jewel on top go out from the side.
What makes this game apart is that the puzzles are very compact, never more than 5x4, and use a small number of pieces, usually just three. Despite that, they are challenging and rewarding. Often times I played carelessly for a while, getting nowhere. Then I stopped to think and had a good "a-ha!" moment as I figured out the trick needed. This is a perfect example of how this kind of puzzles should be designed.

Note that all the pieces can be removed, not just the jewel one. This is actually needed in some of the puzzles, like the above one.
Of course the L-shaped pieces cannot be completely removed, but they can go out partially, which is a key part in many of the puzzles, like this one:
On the other hand, the fact that you can remove a piece doesn't mean that you should: for example to sove this puzzle you need the green block to remain on the board.
What I just said indicates that, unlike Blockhouse, you can get stuck in an unwinnable state, so you need to be careful about what you do, and restart (or undo) if needed.

As I said in my earlier tweet, this game was a pleasant surprise in the sea of clones that are currently devastating the App Store. However, it isn't really a new game: it was originally released in 2010.
Some time ago it was removed from the App Store, and now it's back with a refurbished interface, new puzzles (I think), and updated with some free-to-play mechanics.

The graphics really look outdated. All those textures and skeuomorphism make everything look heavy and overcomplicated. Ironically, if you look at Tom Cutrofello's review of the original version, the graphics were less refined but a lot clearer.

The user interface is terrible. It's confusing, difficult to navigate and interact with. There are just too many options!
Input handling during the game is ok, but there is an area at the bottom of the screen which is used for the undo functionality and often gets in the way.

There's a total of 132 puzzles, which must be solved strictly in order, unless you want to pay to skip one.

The most ridiculous thing is how a free-to-play timer has been added to the puzzle progression. After solving the first 24 puzzles, you have to wait 90 minutes before unlocking the next puzzles, or you can pay $0.99 and unlock them right away. Frankly I don't think this kind of mechanic can work in a game like this: the best thing it can accomplish is turn people away.

Get this game for the good puzzles. However, it would probably benefit from a complete redesign of the user interface and presentation.


Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★★★☆
User Interface★☆☆☆☆
Presentation★★☆☆☆
Loading Time★★★☆☆
Saves Partial Progress
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©2014 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and nontrivialgames.blogspot.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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