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App of the Week: Hundreds

Developer:

Semi Secret Software LLC.

Compatible with:
iPhone (optimized for iPhone 5)

iPod Touch

iPad

Requires:
iOS 5.0 or later

Price:

$2.99 (on sale)

Available here

In what has been a surprisingly deep week of quality apps, hopefully signaling a new year of the same, it was a tough task picking one to spotlight. There is one, however, making some serious noise and gaining quite a following from sites like Kotaku who already name it their, admittedly pre-mature, game of the year.

It’s called “Hundreds”, and if you give it a minute it would like to take over your life. How? Well, like so many other great puzzle apps, it starts with a simple idea. In this case, it is taking a grey circle (or circles) with the number zero in the center, and pressing down on it while the number grows until it reaches a hundred (in the case of multiple circles, the numbers must collectively add to be a hundred). With me so far? Good, because this is where it gets fun. You see, while holding down on a circle it turns from grey, to red. Should that red circle touch pretty much anything, you lose. At all times you must be aware of the location, numbers within, and size of your circles to try to find the right balance of when to manipulate what circles where. It’s an idea very easy to grasp from just a quick video demonstration.

Humorously the first level is a lone circle you must do nothing more to than press down upon until it grows to a hundred. It’s the game’s tutorial level as from there, it spends the rest of its 100+ levels exploring every possible way to throw the concept in your face, and torture you with the relentless difficulty it is capable of. As a fan of level design, I was blown away with the sheer, there’s no other word for it, audacity of the puzzles in this game. It’s clear the developers are overachievers, and they will leave you in stunned silence at the outset of most every level while you appreciate how difficult of a challenge you are facing.

By using random movements, dynamic obstacles, and good old constraints, “Hundreds” forces you not into a zen like state to best it, but rather an actively contemplative one. It gives you plenty of time to consider your next action, and its consequences, and then in the heat of making your move forces you to dynamically adjust the expectations of those actions. It’s like a pitcher giving the batter all the time in the world before politely asking if he’s ready to swing. Even then, he would have no idea what’s coming, and little time to adjust.

The word you’ll hear about “Hundreds” is addictive, and rightly so. It is addictive. Buy what impresses me most is the effortlessness of the entire experience. It’s a puzzle prodigy of sorts, in that it so easily does everything well that you forget the real effort being put into every aspect. Yet even down to the cryptic messages in between stages, there isn’t an idea here that wasn’t carefully considered and implemented.

In the end “Hundreds” may just be another addictive, clever mobile puzzle game in a, thankfully, long line of them. But that it never makes you feel like you’re playing something that has come before is the real joy of the game. “Hundreds” may not be one in a million, but it is equal or greater to all of those titles that paved the way, and is a constant joy, not to mention my app of the week.

  

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