Can you get the ball to the exit? It's a standard trope for puzzle games, but sometimes you find a little gem that draws you in. Let me introduce you to Super Smith Bros' little bundle of fun that uses the far seer physics engine and a pair of wicked minds to the puzzle genre. This is... Drawtopia.
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
In Drawtopia you are asked to get your ball to the exit square, and along the way if you can pick up the three stars then you'll be awarded them - so much the better. The game starts in a paused state, and once you un-pause the game (with the play button) gravity kicks in. In the very, very unlikely event that the exit is directly under the ball, then it will fall in and the level will be successfully complete.
Obviously that never happens, so you need to steer the ball around the screen. You don't have any direct control of the ball, but you have the ability to draw solid walls on the screen. It's not an infinite supply of walls - imagine your finger was a pen, and you could only use the ink in the barrel at the top of the screen. So you need to be careful in your use of the ink, while drawing in enough walls with the right curves and correct angles to bounce, guide, and steer the ball around the screen to pick up all the stars and then reach the exit.
This allows a huge amount of lateral thinking when you come to solve the level. You can look at creating a precise and slow route, or try some hectic bouncing around (your ball is very springy). Different levels will require different techniques, but when you do crack it, there's a feeling of grace to the path of the ball.
On the other hand, neither does Drawtopia feel beautiful. You start with a very well designed level, with delicate dangers on display, pixel perfect traps and levers, and a general feel of smart. Bring your finger and the walls into play, and you add a ragged look to the levels with a wobbling finger and non-linear walls. Yes it works, and yes the ball still moves gracefully, but it spoils the perfect look of the level.
If you have any hints of OCD in your character, this might not be the best game for you.
For everyone else, be prepared for levels that build up in difficulty rather rapidly. Spikes will be the first issue, but you have whirling circular saws, fires, spinning crosses, and more, to contend with as you work through the six different single colour levels (each colour representing a different difficulty level), before you take on the rainbow-infused bonus levels.
Selecting levels from packs, up to three stars for a successful solution, and the ability to jump around and attack any level are all regular gaming mechanisms now, so it's good to see Drawtopia meeting user expectations in this area, while delivering a nice mobile implementation of part platform, part puzzle, and part physics. There's not much to fault Drawtopia in terms of design.
Where Drawtopia falls down is on smaller screened devices. It's all well and good with the large high-resolution screens on the Lumia 925s or Lumia 1020s of the world, but start running the app on a Lumia 620 with its 3.8 inch screen, pair it with some relatively fat fingers, and the accuracy needed for Drawtopia, especially on later levels, simply isn't there.
It's worth persevering with, because it is playable on the smaller screen, it's just that the focus and accuracy you'll need to employ is at a higher level than on other devices, which changes the freewheeling nature of the game. And if you plan on playing this game while walking or on a commute on anything more than a perfectly flat road, you'd better have a screen over the 4 inch mark.
Drawtopia is stylish and easy to play, yet frustrating and punishing in the same breath. It's a compelling mix that manages to keep you interested through the various levels and challenges that have been designed into the game. It's never going to be a must have title, but it is certainly one that the puzzle fanatics should lap up - and I get the feeling that Windows Phone has rather a lot of players that match that description.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at