It could be a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland: somewhere, out there, is a wooden rabbit that lives only to push boxes around. Doing so makes it happy. And lest you think such a life could get boring, Pixel Elephant is out to show that this idea is great fodder for a logic puzzle game in their iOS debut, Puzzled Rabbit (Out Now for iPhone and iPad)!
Puzzled Rabbit is a great implementation of the Sokoban concept. The player’s goal is to direct the strange protagonist in sliding boxes onto destination squares outlined in green. Boxes may slide only from the “push” direction, and along only one axis at a time. Making sure the rabbit always has enough room to get around the box in order to move it becomes quite a logistical dilemma as the playing field grows ever more jagged and filled with tight loops. Aside from letting the player know that he or she has helped the rabbit maintain a comfortable level of joy, the game dispenses famous quotes as rewards for completed levels. Seriously, it’s a fortune cookie app and a puzzle game rolled into one!
Naturally, we don’t eat fortune cookies just for the filling, so Puzzled Rabbit ultimately rests on the simple addictiveness of the Sokoban formula — an undeniable rush accompanies the leaps of insight needed to figure out sliding puzzles like these. Once the player gets the hang of it, there’s also the temptation to return and complete puzzles in fewer moves or in less time for Game Center bragging rights. Puzzled Rabbit could do a better job easing newcomers into the game’s formula, however. Its written tutorial focuses on controls and not on the game’s rules, so being a complete newcomer to the concept left me at a bit of a loss once I hit the game’s first real challenge.
It helps that Puzzled Rabbit ramps up very gradually in difficulty, and the default control scheme compensates for the tutorial’s brevity. The player can choose between “Simple” and “Smart” controls. “Smart” is the way to go, and I would argue essential to the fun I had with this one. Rather than having the player move the rabbit directly, “Smart” mode lets him or her tap on a box to see its possible destinations given its and the rabbit’s current position. Observation over the first four training levels helps players infer Puzzled Rabbit’s game logic if they’re going in completely green. Experienced Sokoban players might get something out of “Simple” mode, which lets the player move the rabbit one square at a time by swiping. Regardless of familiarity, the player’s ability to reverse his or her actions step by step comes very much in handy!
The paper-flat, wide-eyed star carries a certain charm, but Puzzled Rabbit simply isn’t the kind of game you go into looking for glitz and glamor. Since its cozy in-game tune wears thin over long play sessions, Pixel Elephant may want to look at adding more or at least making the game friendlier to external iTunes tracks. It’s currently possible, but a bit circuitous: I had to turn the game’s music off at the main menu screen, press “Play” to make the auto-save kick in, then turn the game off, then fire up an iTunes track, then turn the game back on. Phew! For now, Puzzled Rabbit likes to silence external tracks if the player tries keeping the app on while switching to iTunes.
Weighing in at no less than 186 levels spread over ten sets, Puzzled Rabbit is sure to satisfy the long-term content needs of any logic puzzle fan with a passion for tough logistics. Puzzled Rabbit lets the player tackle levels within a set in any order, and unlocks new sets before the previous ones are completed, so there’s plenty of opportunity to skip around or rush up the difficulty curve early.
iFanzine Verdict: A content-rich and addictive slide puzzle game perfect for fans of logistical challenge. If you’re not already familiar with the rules of Sokoban, however, you’ll face a bit of a learning curve here when first starting out.