iPhone/iPad App Review: Hundreds

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If you’re in the mood for a puzzle game, the iTunes App Store is filled with them, ranging from classics such as Tetris to brain teasing arcade puzzlers like Burn the Rope and the Bejeweled series. However, with some careful searching you can turn up some real gems – fiendishly challenging games built for the iPhone and iPad such as Geared, Compression and Cat Physics. Now we’ve found another one to add to the list; Hundreds.

The product of 18 months work, this brand new puzzle game for iOS has quite a pedigree, with developers Semi Secret having previously worked on hits like Canabalt and Osmos. As you may expect, the game is incredibly simple and beautifully designed, and at first you’ll think, “This is pretty easy”, before suddenly being faced with a level so devious you’ll think it’s the work of an unhinged genius. Best of all though, you’ll want to play it until you beat it.

Here’s what it’s all about. Level one has a dot on the screen which grows in size when tapped and held. At the same time, a timer counts quickly to 100 and when it reaches the century, the level is complete. Next up, there’s more than one circle and they can be pressed at the same time, yet the 100 total needed to pass the level stays the same. But there’s only a certain amount of screen available to fill with ever-growing circles, and if they touch as you’re pressing them, then you fail the level and are forced to start again.

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It’s actually quite difficult to explain the concept of Hundreds, but don’t worry, it’s very easy to play, and doesn’t have – or need – any instructions at all. It’s a testimony to how well it has been designed, as well as how clever the levels are, that there are no tips whatsoever. You just start playing and intuitively know what to do.

Now, when the circles are stationary it’s not all that difficult to reach the 100 total points needed to advance, but when they’re moving around the screen it’s a very different matter. When a circle is pressed and the count increasing, the circle turns red and should it touch something else, the counter is reset to zero. Take your finger off and it’s free to bump into anything it likes and its counter is frozen at the figure it was at when you removed your finger. Hundreds uses multi-touch, so you can press as many circles as you like, a move which is sometimes forced upon you as two circles may need to be pressed at the same time for the counter to start. Nothing difficult about that, except they’re usually attached by an elastic cord and in constant danger of crashing into each other or something else.

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As you make progress, so other obstacles are introduced, ranging from moveable blocks to whirling, free moving buzz saw blades ready to burst your circles and wipe out your score in an instant. It’s here that Hundreds’ challenge really comes to the forefront, as the levels take strategic thought, hand/eye co-ordination, timing, skill and some luck to master. What’s surprising is it isn’t frustrating. Instead of a groan and a scowl when you restart a level for the twentieth time, you’ll have a smile on your face and could even enjoy a giggle at how much fun the devilish developers must have had when they came up with it. The game has plenty more in store too, but to give anymore away would spoil the surprise.

So, from a gaming perspective, it’s faultless. Visually it may not be anything astonishing, but that’s no bad thing as there’s nothing to detract from the game itself. It reminded me of the way one of the best iOS rhythm games, Cytus, kept its still-impressive visuals in check to ensure they didn’t overpower the gameplay. The music sounds excellent over a pair of headphones, and its ambient, dreamy nature fits in with the game perfectly.

Hundreds is universal for the iPhone and iPad, it has a single price tag and no in-app payment system to unlock later levels, and is suitable to be played for five minutes or many hours. There are also 100 levels and you’re going to be playing for a while before you complete the game. Hundreds is priced at £2.99 and should be considered an essential addition to your library of apps.

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