Sokoban is a genre you probably haven’t heard of, but have played many times. The original was a Japanese puzzle that involved moving boxes around a room. Without planning several moves in advance you can easily box yourself in. Robo-E is a spin on this classic puzzle with a Sci-Fi theme; you control a garbage collecting robot that has become confused and needs your Sokoban skills to get his job done!
Robo-E is a galactic garbage collector, and a local supernova has interfered with his positronic brain. That’s the story told by the game’s help page, which also stresses that his name is pronounced “Roboy” – to prevent confusion with a certain Pixar character! The help pages also have a demonstration of how to play the game, indicating where to make gestures with an animated fingerprint.
Robo-E help pages.
This science fiction incarnation of the classic puzzle genre requires you to place chunks of toxic waste onto yellow rings. The junk will be disintegrated when you load all rings, and you’ll progress to the next level.
Loading the disintegration rings.
The trick and attraction with this type of puzzle is that you can’t just blithely go shoving the blocks around – you have to plan ahead. Each level has walls that limit the play area, and you are only able to push blocks. So, if you happen to shove a piece of junk into a corner then you’ve already lost, as you can’t pull it back!
What not to do!
Your lowest move and push count are recorded as a high score for each level (or should that be low score?), which can be reviewed in the level selection screen. The graphical quality of this page is a leap ahead of anything else in the game. There is a three dimensional carousel that is clearly hardware accelerated. Swiping through this list also reveals that there are 32 levels.
Level selection screen.
I found this type of puzzle genuinely challenging, and your success will depend on how many moves ahead you can store in your mind. This is why I don’t think 32 levels is particularly limiting. It will take a while to complete all of them, and then there is the ongoing challenge of bettering your high/low-scores.
It has to be said that the graphics in this game are rather basic. However, this can be forgiven as the main robotic character is incredibly cute – at least to a nerd like me. Robo-E is somewhat orientation-agnostic. As you rotate your phone, Robo-E just adjusts his own orientation and the rest of the user interface is unchanged.
Playing in landscape.
Robo-E is available on the Nokia Store for £1.50. At that price, I really think this is a great title for puzzle fans. It’s the ideal mobile game in that you can dip in for a quick go without having your attention demanded for extended periods.
David Gilson, 30th January 2012.