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There was a time in American history that the flea circus was a thriving attraction, but sadly for Benson’s Music Shop, it’s an era that’s long past. That’s not going to stop an intrepid group of music box-bound fleas, though: they dream of saving poor old man Benson from financial ruin by putting on the best flea concert of their lives. Of course, they’ll need to do so in time to the music, which is where you come in.
So goes the premise for Flea Symphony, the new iOS game from The Odd Gentlemen, which previously developed the Victorian-styled Xbox Live Arcade puzzler, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. Like Winterbottom, Flea Symphony seems delightfully preoccupied with a bygone era, but its gameplay feels surprisingly fresh. In each level, you need to save the fleas flying out of the bells of musical horns by catching them in basket. The trick is figuring out how to do it in time to a set percussion beat.
It’s a little difficult to wrap your head around initially, but you quickly learn to adjust the positions of large kettledrums to bounce your fleas in time to the dictated rhythmic cues on the overhead musical bars. With each new world the process gets harder; first you only have to worry about percussion, then metronome switches, then tubas that act as cannons. Luckily, if you screw up, the rhythm just starts again.
Despite the trial and error approach that such timed puzzles demand, Flea Symphony does reveal a clever side late in the game. A dubstep-themed world brings in dimensional teleportation puzzles straight out of Valve's brainy puzzler, Portal, which is followed by a cute send-up of Angry Birds.
The bottom line. It won’t tax your brain too much, but Flea Symphony has its own melodious charm.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.1 or later
Easy to pick up and play. Cute art style.
Touch controls to move objects can be finicky. Trial-and-error approach annoys in turns.