In various earlier post I presented mazes which are made more difficult because different objects are moving at the same time, constrained by specific rules. Movin’ Maze 3D (and the free version Movin’ Maze 3D Lite) presents yet another variation on this theme (a screenshot is shown to the right here). It is a nicely made puzzle, though there are so many options and possibilities that the puzzling aspect is a bit lost in the joyful chaos.
Archive for the ‘Maze’ Category
Robert Abbott’s Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the puzzles on the app store with more depth (see my earlier post for more details). In 2002 the game was cloned by PopCap for their online game Mummy Maze (shown here to the right). This game explicitly credits Robert Abbott, although this did not happen automatically (see this post for more details on that history). Yet, PopCap actually did add some new aspects to the puzzle. Those new additions are now cloned by a new iPhone game, though without any credit (once again).
The app FLIP is a combination of a Bejeweled-like match-three game, a tilt maze and a match-and-vanish puzzle. So in principle, there are many very interesting puzzle concepts combined into one neat little package. However, the execution leaves much to be desired, and the level-design is not very challenging. So, I really cannot recommend this app just now, but I will keep an eye on any updates.
By using special rules for movement, simple mazes can become complex multi-state maze-puzzles. A well-known special kind of movement that can be used for such puzzles is the knight’s jump from chess. There are two puzzles available in the app store that use this kind of movement, but neither of them offers really nice puzzles yet. However, this could easily be changed for the better.
One of the fascinating possibilities of the iPhone is to use the accelerometer to guide objects through mazes. This can be done with mazes in a literal sense, like in Labyrinth, or in a somewhat less maze-like setting, as in Super Monkey Ball. In these apps, the problems have to be solved through dexterity: a steady hand and smooth movements are necessary reach the goal.
In contrast, the principle of tilt mazes is to only use logic to reach the goal. The basic idea of such mazes is that the maze can be tilted, but the movements of all objects in the maze continue in the direction of the tilt until a wall (or hole) blocks the movement. As far as I know, Andrea Gilbert was the first to propose such puzzles in 1999.
There are three implementations available in the app store that use this principle (links redirect to iTunes):
In my previous post I discussed various puzzles that used the principle of “movement-until-blocked” to transform a simple grid into a more or less complex maze. In a comment to that post, Bob Hearn drew my attention to another such puzzle in the app store that I had missed (iTunes link): Riddle Racer (a free version to try it out is also available). The goal of this puzzle is to move the car to the centre of the board with the help of the orange pylons. Both the car and the pylons can be moved, but only if they are blocked at some point by the car or another pylon.
A regular maze is good, but a concealed maze is better. By allowing only particular kinds of movements, a simple grid suddenly can become a twisted virtual maze. A recurrent trick is to only allow straight movement that continues until blocked. Various puzzles in the app store use this approach. And to give away my conclusion, I find Q Touch (shown here to the right) currently the most interesting of them.
The following five apps all are this kind of “movement-until-blocked” mazes:
One of the ways to make ‘virtual’ multi-state mazes is by using multiple moving figures. You will be in different parts of the maze depending on the combined position of all moving figures. I discussed a particularly nice example of such mazes in my previous post on Theseus. However, there is another puzzle of this kind in the app store: KinWits (there is also a free version of this puzzle to try it out). And if you wonder why this puzzle is a maze in the first place (it sure doesn’t look like one on face value), then read my primer on maze puzzles before you read the rest of this post.
If you can get hold of a copy of Robert Abbott’s books Mad Mazes and Super Mazes you should immediately buy them. Unfortunately, they are out of print now. These books really redefine what mazes are all about. They contain various ingenious variations on the multi-state theme: your position in the maze is actually different depending on how you got there. Although there are many ways to make such mazes (see for example my previous posts), Robert Abbott’s designs are as good as it can get. Now one of his multi-state maze designs (or ‘mazes with rules’ as he likes to call them) has hit the app store: Theseus (iTunes link).
The basic idea of a multi-state maze is that a visually perceived position in the maze can have different ‘states’. This means that being in a particular position in (the visual presentation of) the maze does not mean that you are in the same position of the state-diagram of the maze. In other words: although it might seem that you are on the same position, you can be in different parts of the ‘real’ maze. This abstract principle needs to a good mechanism to work as a puzzle. One approach is to use doors that selectively block a particular part of the maze, and which can only be moved in certain positions. As always with multi-state maze-design, this approach was pioneered by Robert Abbott in his Sliding Door Mazes. A variation on this theme (though I think completely independently developed) is the iPhone game Space Trap, shown here to the left (iTunes link).
[Update 6 February 2009] Space Trap seems to have disappeared from the app store, but today another version of the same puzzling principle became available: Open Doors. Different developers, but there seems to be a direct connection between Alcomi (the company behind Space Trap) and Armor Games (from Open Doors). All a bit confusing though… [end update]
As argued in my previous post, maze puzzles get more interesting when the actual maze is concealed. A really nice concealment of a maze puzzle are rolling block puzzles. In such puzzles a block (larger than 1x1x1, typically 1x1x2) is rolled around a grid of squares. What is so special about that, you might ask? Well, the effect is a multi-state maze, which can result in really nice puzzles.
Mazes are a favorite kind of puzzles for many. Actually, I will argue below that all sequential movement puzzles are actually concealed mazes. However, one important distinction to be made first is that between a maze and a labyrinth. A labyrinth (like the famous one shown to the left here) is only a single twisted path without junctions. There is no possibility to get lost here, and consequently it cannot really considered to be a puzzle. Only when junctures and dead ends are introduced, the puzzling aspect becomes worthwhile, and then the puzzle is called a maze.