Push-Cars, a clever puzzle game from RaLight Solutions, is now available from the app store. Using eco-friendliness as motivation, you’ll need to direct the electric cars safely out of the city while punishing the gas guzzlers by crashing each and every one.
- Visually appealing maps and clever puzzle design
- Smooth difficulty curve that introduces a new element with each map
- Simple controls
- Unique soundtrack and decent sound effects
- GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and achievements
- Two-finger tap is unresponsive, should have Go button directly on game screen
- Several puzzles have good cars at map edges to start, making for pointlessly simple escapes
- Difficult to tell which direction some of the cars are facing
- Not enough night time levels
Push-Cars contains 90 levels of puzzling fun. The first playthrough offers 5 puzzles in each of 9 cities, with a new car type or element added at each stop. Once you’ve completed your trek, you get to do it all over again with all car types available from the get-go, creating a bevy of challenging head-scratchers. Each map gives you a top-down view of a handful of city blocks, with cars at various intersections or partway down the streets. Your task is to orient each vehicle to either slip away unscathed or crash into something. This is accomplished by tapping on each vehicle to spin them into the proper direction. Cars will only travel in the direction that they are facing, unless they pass a blue direction arrow dot, which will allow them to make a turn. The cars themselves vary in speed and ability, with some able to go off-road. San Francisco adds a cable car that must be avoided by all. It’s a fun and interesting challenge to figure out the necessary timing to get all of the cars where they need to be.
Once you have everything situated in a way that appears to meet your goal, tap the start button to set everything in motion and see how sharp your foresight is. Fail to crash a guzzler or smash up a hybrid and you’ll need to go back to the drawing board. As is common with many puzzle games, your solution is rated. You can earn up to 3 steering wheels for finding the best solution, which gets the job done in the least amount of time. Additionally, if you get hopelessly stuck searching for a solution, you can take advantage of the hint system. Using a hint will properly orient 2 cars that are misaligned. Additional hints are earned through the course of play or bought via IAP, which is completely optional. It is entirely possible to solve all puzzles without using a single hint.
Graphically, the cities each have distinct looks, with an art style reminiscent of Flight Control. Each of the cars has a distinct look, though determining which direction they are facing can be a bit confusing with a few models. Most maps are played during daylight hours, though the night map offers an interesting visual twist and nice challenge with its limited visibility. The soundtrack uses a rocking tune that seems a bit out of place, though we didn’t mind it too much. In-game audio is a bit subtler and easier to swallow, as are the fun crashing sound effects. The controls are simple to use, requiring single taps to rotate cars and a two-finger tap to start the cars. The two-finger tap was not nearly as responsive as we’d hoped, so the alternative method of tapping the red corner button and then tapping the play button will have to do, despite feeling awkward.
Replay value is decent, as most solutions won’t be memorable and the rating system will probably require you to find better solutions for at least a few of the maps. GameCenter integration allows for global leaderboards and nearly 2 dozen achievements to earn. This is an engaging logic exercise that kept us eagerly awaiting the next puzzle. The difficulty curve was good and most puzzles were well thought-through and designed, leading to several satisfying solutions. For $0.99 (or $1.99 for the separate HD version), Push-Cars is a 4-Dimple experience that will appeal to the cerebral gamer.