I’m still not sure whether the title Woozzle (Out Now on sale, $1.99 full price, Lite) refers to the new marble sliding game itself or one of the many jungle animals that gather to watch it from beyond the player’s view, but I found myself quickly intrigued. Rather than introduce us to the next cute mascot, Mugeaters prefer to usher the player right into a puzzle game the likes of which have seldom been seen before. It presents the player with a network of tubes and slotted wheels into which colored marbles are continuously fed one by one. The player’s goal is to claim all the level’s wheels by controlling their rotation such that marbles fall into the wheels’ slots in certain combinations — filling a wheel with marbles of the same color suffices at first, but advanced levels introduce more elaborate requirements. While keeping this goal in mind the player also serves as traffic manager, ejecting marbles not needed for a particular wheel further into the network of pipes, where another wheel can hopefully make use of them or at least contain them until they become useful.
If that sounds complicated, rest assured that Woozzle‘s beauty lies in how intuitive its game mechanics feel in practice — despite the fact that it constantly stirs in new innovations to keep things fresh over 60 levels. With the introduction of spray paint mechanisms that recolor passing marbles, levers that block off paths and alternate in direction as marbles are fed through, and numerous other twists, Woozzle becomes less a game of pre-planned engineering than one of real-time triage, with the player doing his or her best with the marbles that happen to be resting in the pipe network at any given moment. Thankfully a little description slide accompanies each new gameplay element as it’s introduced, and the player may review at any time by resetting the game’s running tutorial in the main options menu.
There’s never risk of a “game over” in Woozzle. At worst, poor marble management punishes the player with a cacophony of clicking noises as one or more bounce around in accidentally created cul de sacs. The game is designed such that the player always seems to be able to recover from messy marble buildups as long as he or she doesn’t get too flustered and keeps the basics in mind. In that way Woozzle tends to be a rather laid back experience. On the other hand, players fond of Game Center leaderboards can revisit levels and try to complete them faster for higher scores. A fair number of Game Center achievements are on tap, some performance based, but many that the player will complete automatically.
There’s nary a complaint to be had in the user interface department here. Regardless of how complex the pipe logistics become the player’s task requires only two actions: rotating the slotted wheels via tapping, and ejecting marbles from their slots with sliding motions as needed. Both functions are delightfully reliable throughout. The game does intermittently suffer from slow loading times, especially when it’s first booting up. While I found these instances only minor nuisances during my own playthrough, interested gamers will be pleased to know that Mugeaters are pushing through an update to address this.
Woozzle maintains a very crisply drawn, but always low key, nature-friendly aesthetic. Its limited soundtrack cycles through a few very relaxing guitar tunes that complement the fundamentally laid-back feel of its gameplay. However, this also drives home the point that Woozzle lacks any kind of dynamic window dressing that could help its expertly designed core draw in a wider audience; while it will certainly be appreciated by the general body of puzzle fans, those who stick to other genres are unlikely to find this one especially engaging.
Woozzle is good for at least ten hours of puzzling entertainment, and a few more for competitive players who revisit levels in pursuit of that elusive perfect score. One particularly interesting feature that hasn’t been implemented in the first release is the game’s level editor, which promises a neat take on replay value provided it’s smoothly executed enough for most users to take interest in. Given Mugeaters’ track record with the game so far, something tells me that’s quite likely!
iFanzine Verdict: Buried within all its ferns, wheels, and wooden pipes is a puzzle game that’s superbly fleshed out and (nearly) polished to perfection. Its low key presentation and relaxed approach to player performance are sure to leave some iOS gamers scratching their heads as to what all the fuss is about, but make no mistake: if you’re an action puzzle fan, or generally appreciate the wider puzzle genre, Woozzle is as close to a must-have title as it gets.