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.
Blueprint 3D ($0.99 iPhone, $2.99 iPad) is a three-dimensional puzzle game where you construct two-dimensional pictures. It is the sort of puzzle game that you really need to have a knack for gaining the proper perspective on things.
Think crop circles and wheat fields. Imagine standing on the ground on the middle of a wheat field. You can’t really see what you are standing in, it just looks like flattened grass. If you are familiar with the anamorphic sculptures of artist Jonty Hurwitz, like the The Thinker on display in the lobby of Tower 42 in London, then you start to understand how Blueprint 3D works. There are collections of lines, marks and dashes arranged in three-dimensional space, that when viewed from exactly the correct position, reveal a two-dimensional drawing. The trick is finding the proper perspective in order to see the drawing.
The mechanics of this puzzle game are straightforward. The way things move on the screen is similar to how they move in a 3D drawing tool. You can rotate and spin the object in every possible diction; it’s very similar in fact to how Google Earth(s GOOG) can pitch, roll and rotate planet Earth in order to see various locations. Use one finger to spin the objects into the screen, and use two fingers to rotate the objects on the screen. The image you start out with can be inverted, tilted and flipped over backwards. It’s up to you to figure out just how to move things around, in order to reveal what the image truly is.
There are three difficulty settings for each level, and they do make things much more challenging. What makes the Normal setting somewhat easy to complete is the fact that there are words, equations and numbers on many of the diagrams that you will tend to focus on. Lining up letters to make up common words is a whole lot easier than trying to figure out what shape a bunch of random lines makes. As you move on to Advanced, you lose these visual cues and are forced to figure out the actual shape. With the Pro setting, the various line segments are broken into different layers that must be moved into place individually. This proves to be much more difficult as you are challenged to figure out what you are looking at by manipulating only one part of the picture at a time.
There are over 300 levels to play that are organized into 11 themes. As you start to get the hang of the game, you will start to race through each level in a minute or two, especially in Normal difficulty. You may want to challenge yourself by playing either Advanced or Pro difficulty before you gain familiarity with the objects in Normal difficulty. If you cannot figure out what the picture is in Pro before the timer runs out, then decrease the difficulty to Advanced, start the timer over again, and see if it is any easier. Only when you cannot figure out how to solve the puzzle in Advanced difficulty, should you then try it out in Normal difficulty. This seems to be backwards, but I found this method of play to be much more challenging.
What makes this game truly amazing is the fact that you can create your own levels from photos in your library or ones you take in the game with the camera. Each image is processed much like a photo is turned into a drawing or a cartoon character with other apps available in the App Store.(s AAPL) There are some basic slider controls that allow you to tweak the look of the final design. You can even touch up the final image by erasing what does not belong. When finished, you then choose the background theme and save your levels locally. After you play the level yourself, you can share it online via email, Facebook or Twitter.
I had some fun creating levels based off of designs used in patents Apple has submitted. One of my favorites was a design Apple used for the famous glass staircase used in its retail stores. You can of course use the designs of your own house car or workplace. You can even try it out with the artwork created by children (it works best with line drawings). So take some time this weekend and look at the objects in your life from a different perspective.