Summary:

This week’s game looks like a simple puzzle game but is really about learning complex patterns.

Girls Like Robots

Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.

Girls Like RobotsGirls Like Robots ($2.99, Universal) is a puzzle game where the pieces of the puzzle each have their own likes and dislikes. In this game, the nerds like robots too, but that is not the problem. The problem is that the girls do not like the nerds.

Oddly enough, the nerds don’t like other nerds either. About the only puzzle piece that can tolerate a nerd is a robot. It is these very basic social rules that lay the foundation of the game. The playing board is laid out in a grid of squares, with each piece occupying a square on the grid.  Each puzzle piece can be happy, mad or indifferent.  The score you earn is based on how many puzzle pieces on the board you make happy. When every piece on the board is happy you earn the maximum points allowed for that board.

Girls Like Robots

From these simple beginnings a truly complex series of challenges await. Of course the size and dimensions of each board can change. But with certain levels there are already immovable pieces placed on the board that you have to contend with. Once a piece is played you cannot move it. There is an undo that allows you to keep undoing your previous moves one at a time. Or if you prefer, you can reset the entire board and start all over again.

Girls Like Robots

As the levels progress, additional player pieces are introduced. Each new piece has its own set of likes and dislikes. There are even girls who like bugs in this game. What makes the game interesting is that each player piece has a personality, and a part to play in the storyline.  If you ever forget who likes who, you can always tap and hold on each player piece to see a cheat sheet outlining its interests. There is also a heart on the screen that you can press to see how the pieces you have already played on the board like each other. Green indicates a positive relationship and red a negative one.

Girls Like Robots

Some levels play out like a game of solitaire where you decide which piece is played where and when. In the earlier levels you can even see the count of pieces you have remaining. And, a s things progress, some levels present you with the exact order the pieces must be played in what can best be described as a sort of Tetris-style of gameplay. On these levels, you only know what piece is coming next.  There are levels where the pieces are moving, and you must box in these pieces in order to keep them from moving about.  These variations are what make each new level a challenge to complete.

Girls Like Robots

There are three different acts to play out as well as a series of bonus levels. Each act is unlocked as you complete earlier acts. Within the acts there are over 100 levels with their own  unique story to tell, which helps explain the rules for completing that level. For instance, you may be responsible for keeping a space next to June in the cafeteria so that Ben can sit next to her.  Ben wants to ask June to go with him to the upcoming school dance.  Or you may need to situate a robot between Ben and the other girls, as Ben has become quite excited to get to the dance.

Girls Like Robots

With each level played, there is a thermometer that rates the total happiness of all of the pieces on the board. The more pieces that are happy, the higher the thermometer rises. Once all of the pieces are played, a final score is tallied and you are awarded from one to three happiness points. These points are collected in your Bag of Happiness.  The bonus levels — or challenges as they are called — are unlocked when you earn enough happiness points in your Bag of Happiness.

As you get familiar with each of the characters in the game, you begin to look forward to learning what comes next in the story.  As challenging as the puzzles can become, the story continues to string them all together into the three acts of a play.  Each obstacle, additional character or new aspect to the game can be associated directly with a twist in the main plot of the story.

So this weekend you should set aside time to come to understand exactly why Girls Like Robots better than Nerds.

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