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iPhone  header logo

3bot


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Three-form thinking

Product: 3bot | Developer: DevKid | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
3bot iPhone, thumbnail 1
Three is a number imbued with religious, cultural, and mathematical significance. Words, objects, and people grouped into threes tend to be stronger, more complete, or more memorable.

Depending on which early '90s American hip-hop trio you asked, three could even be deemed the magic number.

The point is we like things in threes, which might explain why DevKid opted to base its new iPhone and iPod touch game, 3bot, around the number.

Fun bot 3

You control a three-legged robot called 3bot in a 3D world comprising three-sided shapes (a.k.a. triangles). All three worlds consist of '3+3+3+3+3 levels' (that’s 15 to us normal-counting folk).

Numerical theme aside, 3bot is a simple little puzzler. The goal is to guide 3bot so that he touches each face of every shape in the level in as few moves as possible.

3bot can only move to immediately adjacent surfaces, so the game is a matter of planning your route so that you don’t end up wasting moves by walking over already-lit-up triangles. Indeed, after the first world you won’t be able to complete levels if you do so.

Another dimension

An impressive 3D engine powers the game. Rotating the world is done by dragging a finger over across the screen, while you can zoom in and pan out through the time-honoured multi-touch method.

Moving 3bot is a question of touching the relevant triangle once it’s in view, with a line of dots emanating from his head leaving a virtual breadcrumb trail in his wake. This helps avoid disorientation with all the swooping and spinning that occurs.

The controls work well for the most part, although things get finicky in tight spaces. Some levels, for example, feature multiple triangular blocks tightly clustered together, requiring you to negotiate your way to the very centre. At such points, it’s as tough to align the camera as it is easy to select the wrong target triangle.

Must tri harder

The key issue with 3bot is that it just doesn’t grab you. It’s technically accomplished, pleasant to look at (with a charming 1950s pop style), and reasonably innovative, but the gameplay itself - ironically enough - feels one-dimensional.

It’s startling how quickly running around tiles starts to feel like going through the motions. What’s more, the constantly moving 3D engine makes it hard to formulate a solid plan of attack. You end up running around semi-randomly, hoping to complete the level quickly and without too much back-tracking.

New elements are introduced to counteract this - spinning blocks, shrinking cubes - but they just serve to confuse and frustrate even more.

3bot is a well presented, playable puzzler with a fluid 3D engine that’s a joy to navigate. The puzzle system at its core doesn’t quite match up to the rest of the game, however. In this case three isn’t quite the magic number.
 
3bot
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 26 December 2010
3bot presents a neat new puzzler concept and a slick 3D engine, but the gameplay at its core falls flat
 
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