Glowingpine Studios HB
£0.69 on Apple iOS
Little Luca is a cute iOS physics puzzler which aims to get a white ball into a gravitational well (with a flag in it).
However the game is billed as Luca’s paranoid fantasy (or dream) that the stars fell from the sky across the world and he now has to return them to the vault of heaven. Poetic, yes. Cute, also yes.
In order to get the ‘stars’ (which don’t appear to be alight) back into their rightful places, you use a variety of objects which are able to be manipulated – bouncy hills, adjustable air currents, the orbital paths of objects and large hungry planets which suck you in and spit you out at will (reminiscent of Ken Catran’s planet-eating ameb).
Game play involves tapping the device’s touch screen and relies upon timing and angles more than anything, so if you enjoyed the physics-aspects of games such as Portal, you may find a tiny echo of enjoyment here, working out how an object will exit orbit or fly on a trajectory when bounced. The physics is also fairly realistic, as far as blowing winds in space and on-off gravity switches can be, which is satisfying.
The graphics are cute, if a little blunt; set in pixellated style as a hat-tip to old school games, and there is a certain nostalgia to playing it.
There are 90 levels spread over three worlds which are unlocked by collecting stars through ingenuity while getting the ball to the goal point; the worlds aren’t too difficult to unlock really and since there are 30 levels in the first world, it’s not something you need to overly worry about.
These levels can get pretty boring, however; there’s not a whole lot going on aside from getting a ball to a certain point (a game for rugby fans perhaps?), although every now and then the game introduces new mechanisms of movement, generally with a little story; the tractor beams are introduced simply by Luca saying ‘Ready the tractor beam, Lieutenant Yar!’
The game costs £0.69 which, for the amount of gameplay you get out of it, is fairly reasonable. Each level is short and sweet so it’s perfect for short journeys on public transport and works well on an iPhone screen, although it can get a bit cramped and overwhelming when multiple movements and mechanisms are required.