Week in Mobile: Catch the Berry aims bigger than Cut the Rope

Catch the Berry is a new physics-based puzzler that squeezes in alongside games like Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, and Where’s My Water? — only with a different, catchy concept: Draw a line anywhere to change and overcome a level’s challenges.

Released on the App Store on Oct. 17, Catch the Berry is the work of Random House Digital and Smashing Ideas, which together developed apps like George R. R. Martin’s A World of Ice, a guide to the bestselling book and television series. Catch the Berry features 80 levels across four worlds and stars … well, berries.

“We actually didn’t start with berries,” Smashing Ideas senior producer Telford Burtts told GameZone. “Our first idea was to have lava oozing from the planets volcanic mountain, and you had to guide it through the village without destroying the villagers or their huts.

"After further testing and story development, we didn’t feel the core story and characters would have a life beyond the game," he said. "We had a great discussion about how we could alter the story in a way that would appeal to our broader demographic, and we landed on the characters in the game and berries. Not to get too deep, but a lot of it had to do with our creative director's belief in storylines with a basic, human truth — in this case, we all need food to survive and thrive.”

That may sound a little deep for a simple puzzle-platformer, but Smashing Ideas put a lot of thought into the concept, which proved the best out of a studio-wide competition of 17 ideas. Originally called “Finger of Fate,” Catch the Berry is meant to appeal to ages 8 and up, but its “fiendishly” difficult gameplay might make it inaccessible to some.

Burtts isn’t worried. “The game will be harder for the younger demographic to master, but it is designed to still be fun for them to play,” he said. “Since each level can be solved in many ways, we feel nearly anyone can work toward mastery. Our level designers worked hard to balance increased challenges with new objects to help with progression through the level.”

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Using their finger, players draw, alter, and erase lines that can transport berries — brought to life by a magical crystal — to the hero, Huckle. Obstacles like thorns can pop the fruit, and various flora and fauna or even terrain like a mountain cliff add to the challenge of dropping the berries in Huckle’s basket.

“There is no specific way to get the berry in the basket — it's about experimentation, finding solutions that don't seem obvious and a bit of finger dexterity,” said Burtts.

“I've watched gamers young and old become instantly addicted to the gameplay, and I think our developers have done a fabulous job of leveling up — the initial puzzles do a good job of preparing the user for the later, more challenging levels," Randi Rosenkranz, the vice president of digital development at Random House Digital, told GameZone.

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Book publisher Random House is probably the last name you’d expect to hear attached to a mobile game, but Catch the Berry is the latest addition to the company’s growing app library.

“At Random House Digital, our goal is to create apps that our authors and consumers love — and we strive to create products that have intuitive user experiences, cool functionality, and sleek design to present all forms of engaging content,” said Rosenkranz.

Catch the Berry was in development for 18 months. It costs $2.