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Angry Birds developer Rovio really knocked it out the park with its first run of physics-heavy bombardment games, which (as we all know) starred agitated avian getting hurled through the air to annihilate grunting swine in haphazard fortifications. By contrast, Amazing Alex HD isn't the most original or fresh follow-up -- it's essentially an updated and re-skinned version of Casey's Contraptions, a game the studio acquired and then removed from the App Store. But the revamped, physics-heavy, puzzle-solving gameplay still offers an entertaining way to bend your brain nonetheless.
Crafting cartoonish Rube Goldberg machines to ferry objects around the screen to their destination is a matter of placing and rotating a medley of pipes, ramps, balls, spring-loaded boxing gloves, and other gadgetry in creative ways, all in an effort to solve each level and collect stars as you go. While you have a finite supply of specific objects to work with in each stage, making due with what you have is an intuitive process that only devolves into trickier trial-and-error during the later stretches of the game.
Amazing Alex HD is thankfully forgiving when it comes to testing and retesting your designs. It's easy to drag and drop available elements onto the screen, and you're free to tweak and manipulate them before hitting the "go" button to see how everything plays out. Rather than starting from scratch if you fail, you can simply adjust what you've already laid out until it works.
Stages start off super simple and grow more complex the deeper you progress beyond the first of four main areas, but they're rarely tough enough to make you frustrated. Plus, the ability to make your own puzzles in the level editor to share -- or download any of the 22,000+ other user generated levels -- greatly expands the fun potential. But while Amazing Alex HD packs more polish, it loses some of the personality that made the original so endearing.
The bottom line. Amazing Alex HD retreads some familiar territory, but it's a strong reboot of an already awesome game -- just dressed up in some new duds.
iPad running iOS 4.2 or later
Tons of bonus content beyond the main levels. Extra visual polish. Forgiving gameplay.
A new coat of paint on an old game. Lighter on personality.