Review: Furmins

Furmins

Most gamers will recognize the development team Housemarque for awesome games like Super Stardust HD, Dead Nation, Outland and their latest PlayStation Vita launch title Super Stardust Delta.  Since these titles are console focused and I have played and enjoyed Super Stardust HD and Dead Nation, I was happily surprised to learn that the team had also recently released an iOS game, Furmins.  With their pedigree of great titles I assumed that I would have the opportunity to play a great game on the go. I assumed correctly.

In Furmins, Housemarque has created a unique blend of quick physics-based puzzles and cute, furry, Lemming-like creatures, all with the goal to tease and torture players until that “Ah ha!” moment gels, and the solution to a puzzle is apparent.

While there isn’t much in the way of story (but has that stopped any fun, addictive iOS game from being a hit?), the premise is to move objects and create pathways to get the fuzzy Furmin creatures from point A to point B and collect little candy pieces along the way. While the majority of puzzles found throughout the game are physics based, there are several puzzles that also rely on timing and quick actions in the form of tapping the screen in order to activate jump pads or reverse the direction of conveyor belts.

Each level has a number of candy pieces strewn about for the Furmin to collect before they reach the finish gate.  Collect the full number of candies and three stars can be earned for the level.  Collecting less candies means earning two or one stars when the level is completed.  Banked stars can then be used to unlock additional levels at the cost of 150 stars per each new section.  Additional bonus levels can also be unlocked at 10 stars per level.

The initial levels are simple enough and teach the necessary mechanics to complete each level without earning all three stars.  My own personal OCD nature kicked in many times when I found that I was able to complete a level but missed picking up one or two pieces of candy to keep me from earning all three stars, and so I would fixate on replaying levels over and over again until the top prize was earned.

As the sections progress and backgrounds change art style, new mechanics are introduced.  Initially, levels start off very basic, with players simply needing to move straight pieces into the right location to keep the Furmin from falling to their death.  Bounce pads soon add to the arsenal of units that players control.  Ice blocks in various stages of melting, swinging stones, and high speed air canons round out the tools offered to help players complete over 70 puzzle stages.

While the initial stages are fairly easy to master, the later stages can be a bit devious in design, and at first glance I often found myself asking just how in the heck I was going to solve this one.  Some levels (after realizing which tools have been given to help solve a level) take a few minutes to find the exact placement through trial and error while others are still beyond my feeble mind’s ability to grasp.  Fortunately, Housemarque has designed each section of the game to allow players to move on to the next puzzle without forcing a solution to a particular challenge.  The only real penalty being that no candy can be collected, thus no additional stars can be earned to unlock additional sections of the game.  Honestly, I wish more developers provided this sort of puzzle challenge option.  There is nothing more frustrating than firing up a quick game while waiting for my kids to finish up an activity, only to be dumbfounded and stuck on one level without any option to continue on to the next board without wanting to cheat and look up a solution.

Furmins is a fun pick up and play game that has beautiful background artwork and some truly amusing puzzles.  My biggest complaint is the lack of iOS Game Center integration.  Not that I’m strictly looking to earn additional achievements from a game, but I think a quick puzzler like this benefits from an online community where I can compare how I’ve done on a particular puzzle with how my friends have done.  Hopefully Housemarque can patch in this functionality in the future–I can just imagine my friends being able to complete a puzzle that I have not and be able to ask and see how they did so.

While Furmins may not be a household name like Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, the same smart, quick level/puzzle design is present and the cute, fuzzy Furmin are fun to pop around on the screen as they roll about collecting candy, bounding towards the finish gate.  At $2.99 for the universal HD version or just $0.99 for the iPhone/iPod version, Furmins is a great app worth playing on your preferred iOS device.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Quick, well-designed puzzles
+ Replay offers lots of chances to pick up every piece of candy
+ Gorgeous art

Cons:
– Some puzzles are devilishly hard
– No Game Center integration

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: Housemarque
Developer: Housemarque
Release Date: 2/2/2012
Genre: Action/Puzzle
Age Rating: 4+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.