I'm a sucker for cute games. The sounds, the characters, the music, the art. But a cute game coupled with thoughtful gameplay? We have a winner, folks.
Pebble Universe is an iOS game (sorry Android users) with all of the above necessary ingredients. In Pebble Universe, the race of adorable pebble creatures is soon to go extinct with the arrival of ghostly, soot-filled monsters. The grumbling monsters have a taste for pebble meat, but the victims won't stand by idly while their friends get eaten. Turns out their pebble hats have other uses than just shelter and making them look damn cute.
By slamming their heads together, the pebbles break apart and cut into the invaders. This is where us gamers come into play. Anticipating how fast the pebbles will roll down their particular side of the hill before slamming into the other pebble at just the right angle will determine how many monsters get hit by the shards released from impact. The rules are simple enough -- namely, get two pebbles to crash into each other -- but unforeseen obstacles will require you to better judge the landscape before setting your pebble weapon down for a kamikaze kill.
Each level is designed to make you pause for thought before you launch pebbles. Maybe the downhill angle is one you haven't encountered before, or you've run into a larger sized pebble that needs proper recalculating to anticipate how much momentum it will need for a clean kill. Some pebbles fall right on top of super bouncy sponges -- projecting them at fast speeds -- and others are designed to explode with a much larger force. Each new assembly of pebbles on a new layout will require a moment of strategy planning.
Pebble Universe is just a little too easy, though. What with the shards of pebbles being able to bounce off sponges and the monster eyeballs that have fallen off of recently deceased enemies also functioning as a weapon against their own kind, it's often hard not to hit the monsters. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing, though, because you get to experience the game stress-free for those of you who aren't up for a Super Meat Boy level of challenge in precision.
If you're looking for a serious test of your skills to calculate the physics of the drop of each pebble, angle of impact, and potential spread of pebble hat shards, this isn't the iPhone-breaking game you're looking for. Puzzle games are a dime a dozen in the App store, but this cutie is quite the contender. The inventive levels and cute waves from the community of pebble dwellers is enough for me to enjoy monster hunting in Pebble Universe.
Pebble Universe [iTunes]