What is the definition of bump? Well I asked Google to define it for me. A note here though, I don’t know where Google comes up with it’s definitions, I assume it’s from various dictionary sources. Or I could have just gone to a dictionary. However Google is easier because all I have to do is type define:bump in a search and it pulls it up. So Google defines the word bump as a) knock against with force or violence, b) find: come upon, as if by accident, c) dance with the pelvis thrust forward, d) a lump on the body caused by a blow, e) to demote (actually I’ve never heard it used in this context, except if someone said bump down, technically speaking bump is upward or outward so I don’t think demote really holds, I guess “you’ve been bumped” would constitute a demotion, but I don’t know, generally speaking we usually like to say the direction of the bump, ie bumped down, bumped up), f) bulge: something that bulges out or is protuberant or projects from it’s surroundings, g) dislodge: remove or force froma position of dwelling previously occupied, h) blow: an impact (as from a collision). These are your main bump dictionary definitions. Well now that I’ve obviously used some space as filler, what does that have to do with today’s game? Well if you haven’t guessed already, the game is called “Bumps” by Utopian Games.
“Wow! Amazing!”, you exclaim. “A game about protuberances?” Well yes and no. These little guys are round objects that are more like balls. Of course the developer could have named it balls, but I think there’s a lot of games called that maybe. Or maybe the developer just thought it was cute, who knows? One thing I do know, is that Bumps is actually cute. That’s right, they’re little round colored balls, er, bumps with eyes on them and eyebrows. Okay okay enough about cuteness. Bumps is actually a physics based game. You could call it a strategy game, although I guess physics-based puzzle is what it is. The usual alien story, alien captures creatures, you have to rescue creatures. In this case creatures equals the bumps. In order to free the bumps you need to position a few “free” bumps over the level and they must touch the keys associated with their color. Pretty simple just drag the bump into position and hit the go button at the bottom and they start dropping and rolling. Feedback is great in fact entirely uncluttered. When you hit a key a sort of tinkle type sound plays and bubbles float off the screen. When the bumps are released you can hear their unanimous voices cheer in success. Then you get a star in bronze, silver, or gold depending on how many tries you made to free the bumps. There is no score, so no clutter about that. I suppose though it would have been better if the stars you’ve accumulated each were shown on the top of the screen. Also the level number. I know they wanted it to be simplified, but it would have given a better sense of progress.
There are certain extra things that I would have preferred in subsequent tutorial levels. Not because the game is hard to learn, but because there are little things like modifiers and type of obstacles and so forth. I will comment on a few of these things here. A key can only be used by the bump with the same color as the key (I think I mentioned that above). I guess the modifiers would be like power ups, only they don’t necessarily always give you extra help. (for instance a weapons upgrade in a shooting game, or an extra life). The “bubbles” with the plus ‘+’ icon enlarges the bump (this actually makes things a little more challenging at times), the ‘-‘ minus icon makes a bump smaller which helps the bump get through some tight spaces. There’s one that looks like a ball with speed lines coming off of it, which of course speeds up the bump for a short period of time. Then there is the reverse or gravity flip. For instance a key may be on the underside of an obstacle, and the only way to get to it, is to hit the reverse icon. This icon looks like vertical double arrow, essentially like a one way street sign but up and down instead of side to side. Like this <- -> only up/down :-) Okay in the game, are spinning platforms, springs, mushrooms that have a bouncy quality, and chains (you have to break chains in some cases but I’ll leave it to you on how to manage that.) Sometimes there’s more than one ‘free’ bump in a level, but this is to be able to use multi-colored keys.
Overall this game is fun. Interesting twist on the puzzle-physics genre (like crayon physics and others of it’s kind). The presentation is fairly polished. Graphics are nice for what they are. I mean the game is kind of abstract, as is the graphics, but that’s not bad. None of the graphics look bad, partly because of this fact, and partly because, well, they’re good graphics. The sound is cool, the bumps cheering, the tinkle sounds, all are meant to invoke a pleasant feeling. In fact it’s almost kid-like, but don’t let this deter you from playing because underneath is a slick set of challenges. The music is the only thing I have an issue with. Now don’t get me wrong it’s ok, but it can just get annoying, especially the menu music. It should fade out for a while at least. In fact so should it in the game, but that’s just nit-picky, because you can turn the sound or music all the way down.
One final statement before my final analysis. I sort of wished they put up more challenging levels in the demo. Because those that are in there are fairly simplistic. There was one I can’t remember which level it was (because of no level number on the screen) that I had made 5 attempts and that was pretty challenging. But overall the demo isn’t really. I think they should have put a few really easy, a few middle of the road, and a few really hard ones in the demo, to give you an idea of what you’re getting.
Final Analysis: A fun, somewhat challenging, and slick physics-puzzler. This will appeal to both young and old alike, with it’s whimsical almost child-like graphics, and yet challenging game play. Give it a try, you’ll have some fun.
Developer: Utopian Games
Price: $4.95 / €2.95 / £3.45