Angry Birds developer Rovio has spent the past three years exclusively producing games featuring birds and pigs. And who could blame them – the Finnish developer recently celebrated one billion downloads of their wildly successful franchise.
But now Rovio has finally released a different kind of physics-based puzzle game for iOS devices like iPhone and iPad as well as Android - Amazing Alex.
The game lets players construct elaborate Rube Goldberg devices – those overly complicated contraptions that perform an otherwise simple task.
Goals include bouncing a ball into a basket, knocking over an object or popping a balloon.
There are dozens of objects to place in order to create complex chain reactions to achieve the desired feat, including balls, boards, pipes, springs, pulleys and mechanical boxing gloves.
Players are encouraged to collect three stars on each of the 100 levels, which often means you need to create a much more elaborate set-up than would be otherwise necessary.
The good news is that there is often plenty of scope for experimentation and creativity.
There can be some fiddly trial-and-error required, and the game is certainly better suited to the larger expanses of an iPad screen than an iPhone or Android-baed mobile so you can precisely place objects.
But whatever device you use, it can be incredibly satisfying to watch a spectacular chain reaction after a painstaking set-up.
Better still, you can quickly and easily create your own levels for others to play, or download creations built by other users.
While Angry Birds now adorn all manner of merchandise, you’re unlikely to ever see Alex on a t-shirt, lunch box or keyring. The game would have benefited from a more elaborate storyline and a more engaging character.
Fortunately, Amazing Alex is still a lot of fun and a great little timewaster at a cheap and cheerful price.
What have you been playing lately?
Jason Hill is on Twitter: @thatjason