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I’d Buy That for a Dollar: Burn it All: Journey to the Sun and Catch the Candy

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Posted by: Kyle Hilliard

Burn it All: Journey to the Sun iPhone $0.99, Windows Phone 7 $2.99

Burn it All: Journey to the Sun, is a puzzle game that appeals to arsonists or people who enjoy dabbling in the art of setting things on fire, specifically rope. It’s the sort of game that works well on the touch screen, to a certain degree.

The player is given a series of ropes and is tasked with moving a small flame with a happy face to the ropes in the correct order. Longer ropes take longer to burn, so they must be burned first. It’s a simple mechanic that becomes complicated very quickly with the addition of different types of flames, different types of ropes, and obstacles such as bats and falling drops of water. Eventually you’ll even be burning things besides rope.

This game is about speed, intelligent planning, and accuracy. Accuracy is the only part of the game that causes any real issues. Navigating the flames with your finger through close quarters, dodging water, and making sure not to burn the wrong rope can be a frustrating endeavor. It’s that seemingly unsolvable problem of our pesky fingers obscuring the very thing we are trying to control. You can offset your finger from the flame to control it correctly, but it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. You’ll be burning the wrong rope fairly often, or you'll be getting hit by water drops. Who knew that drops of water could be such an infuriating enemy?

The other parts of the game are shining examples of creative, mobile gaming. The art style is rich and uses color incredibly well to demonstrate game mechanics. It’s always clear which flames do what and which ropes burn at which speeds based on their color. The rope that burns slowly simply looks like it should; the same can be said for the rope that burns quickly.

The general mechanic of the game is an admirable one. It makes sense very quickly, but proves to be a surprising challenge in the later levels. It also encourages replay by offering gems and achievements for perfectionists.

The main problem with this game is a glaring one, but it is a problem faced universally by games that are played exclusively on a touch screen.

Catch the Candy $0.99 (iPad $1.99)

Catch the Candy is a puzzle game where you play as limbless, furry, purple creature with a selectively sticky tongue who desires only candy. Getting to the candy can be accomplished by attaching your tongue to the candy and pulling it toward you. Usually, it’s a much trickier process that involves moving boxes with your tongue--or more frequently, moving your whole body by using your tongue as a short of sticky purple hookshot.

Catch the Candy is a completely bare-bones puzzle game for the iPhone. In some ways this is a good thing, but mostly it’s an incentive-free sandbox. None of the levels offer any tangible reward for completing them in an exceptional way. There is a score based off the number of times you use your tongue, but there is no reward for keeping that number low. You could beat a level with only one tongue-lashing, or you could beat it with 200,000 tongue lashings. Either way, the level is complete and you can move on to the next one.

This makes the game completely free of stress. You are free to look at the cute, little creature and listen to the relaxing island whistle music without any fear of repercussions for doing a bad job. In fact, since there is no limit on the number of times you can use your tongue to beat a level, you may often find yourself arbitrarily tapping all over the screen with no real plan of attack.

There are a few levels that require finesse and timing, but those don’t appear until the very end in the cleverly titled collection of levels called, “The Hard Levels.” These actually feel as though some extensive thought went into their design and they necessitate a keen, puzzle-focused mind to finish them. Coincidentally, these levels are the most fun.

Catch the Candy is a fun game with an interesting puzzle mechanic, but the only incentive to complete the levels with a lower tongue count are a few Game Center achievements. There is a real missed opportunity to create a challenge by forcing the player to stay under a certain number of tongue lashings. After the puzzle mechanic was developed, they pretty much stopped there. It is fun, though, and the later levels make everything leading up to it fairly forgivable.

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