Hey, Big Eater!
You’d think serving as a short-order cook for a mouse would be easy: just toss a piece of cheese on a plate and slide it on over. However, LovApps is determined to show us that it’ll take more than that to Feed the Rat (Out Now, $0.99)! For whatever reason, whoever’s delivering to this game’s hungry star likes to keep a distance, and as luck would have it, the rat prefers to hole up in crawlspaces set up like mazes. The one thing going for the player is that the delivery dish is rubbery enough to bounce around. A sound premise for an iOS physics puzzler if there ever was one!
Feed the Rat‘s thirty-odd puzzles challenge the player to fling a cheese-laden plate with just enough force, and at just the right angle, so that it reaches the waiting rat within five seconds. Can’t let that cheese spoil, apparently! This becomes progressively more difficult to accomplish as level design evolves, tossing in all manner of barriers, deflective surfaces and even poison traps that could taint an otherwise perfect attempt.
If the rat’s able to gobble up his food that alone is enough for advancing, but the player’s performance is rated on how much his or her attempts conform to a perfect solution; coins are spread across each level as waypoints suggestive of the solution, and striking them all yields a perfect score. Feed the Rat‘s levels are satisfyingly designed to test the player’s thinking cap, and an auto-retry button makes the trial-and-error process of finding solutions move along smoothly enough to be consistently addictive.
The one thing keeping Feed the Rat from being a true banquet for genre fans is its flinging mechanic. Swiping to slide the plate along never feels entirely natural, owing in large part to a lack of real-time feedback that would let the player know what the results of a fling will be. Angry Birds has its trademark slingshot pullback and the more recent Melon Truck goes so far as to give the player mathematically precise feedback on power and trajectory. Feed the Rat feels like it operates on a “swipe and pray” routine by comparison, and the control point on the plate is small enough that quickly made swipes often miss the mark entirely; the player must take care to execute swipes slowly and methodically here. While it’s easy to love Feed the Rat‘s level design, discerning physics puzzle fans are likely to find its interface a turnoff in a genre that’s packed with so many competing titles.
Feed the Rat is well complemented by crisp hand-drawn visuals and expectedly lighthearted music. Those who don’t sweat its imprecise interface will certainly have a few hours’ worth of challenging content to chew on, with more levels on the way in planned updates.
iFanzine Verdict: Despite its superbly intricate level design, well-stocked content and fundamental addictiveness, physics puzzle fans will have to be forgiving of a swipe control that isn’t quite intuitive to truly enjoy Feed the Rat.