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Sheep Mania: Puzzle Islands


For: Mobile

A flockin' good game

Product: Sheep Mania: Puzzle Islands | Publisher: Progressive Media | Developer: Progressive Media | Format: Mobile | Genre: Casual, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 246KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
 
Sheep Mania: Puzzle Islands Mobile, thumbnail 1
Here's an interesting notion to kick off a few hundred words of praise for Progressive Media's woollen wonder: I'd been playing this game for a good ten minutes before it even occurred to me that the principle wasn't particularly original.

I think I was too caught up in the comic antics of the sheep, or the thoroughly absorbing, meandering gameplay, or the beautifully sharp graphics to notice this was another take on the old 'juggernaut character' concept.

There have been a few games lately that have placed an unsteerable, unswerving character at the centre of the action, requiring players to guide them ingeniously to a safe destination. In this case, it's a candy-cute sheep that could rival Shaun for woollen charm.

Sending your fluffy friend off in a certain direction means he doesn't stop until he hits an obstacle – or falls off the edge of the world, of course. What lifts this game above the others is the delightful dynamism of the environments.

None of the levels immediately look like a puzzle; or a maze at all for that matter. We have apparently sprawling, cartoony fields littered with ordinary items, where a chirpy sheep like this might actually roam. Simply fathoming the boundaries is an enjoyable challenge in itself.

An observation mode allows you to peruse these varied landscapes before kicking the woollen lemming into gear, though as previously stated, these well camouflaged labyrinths don't easily reveal themselves without the wandering mammal to highlight the pitfalls. A variety of environmental mechanics work to help or hinder our downy beast, and increase the hidden complexity of the levels.

Other toothy animals might pop out of the ground to chomp at our hairy hoofed hero, while tractors and electric gates block the way in the opposite direction. Jumping in and out of holes in the grounds serves as a teleport system to other locations about the levels, although these can create as much positional confusion as they help solve the physical conundrum between you and the goal.

The shear addictiveness (shear! Get it?!) of Sheep Mania initially suggests it won't last long. Only severe thumb cramps finally got me to put the handset down for a few minutes and read the instructions instead, and I was delighted to see there are a good 50 levels to work through.

An intuitive, yet suitably unforgiving difficulty level means that by the sixth round, your spatial acuity will be under significant hardship, so 50 levels is more than enough to add real value for money to Progressive Media's awesome animal antics.
 
Sheep Mania: Puzzle Islands
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 27 May 2008
An established gaming system refined to new levels of excellence and amplified by a wonderfully light-hearted theme
 
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