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By David Stone | Sep 3, 2010 |

Bumps 1.1 alleviates our earlier frustrations, making this a game every puzzle fan can love

Utopian games have just released an update for Bumps into the wild, adding in new levels, a few tweaks, and one big change into the mix that largely addresses the issues we had in our original review.

One big change is all that was needed to make Bumps infinitely more enjoyable: saving the previous locations of the Bumps. This one additional feature alleviates a lot of frustration, because you can tweak the starting points much more easily. As such, if a Bump was just slightly off target, it’s a matter of quickly hitting restart, shifting the starting position ever so slightly, and trying again.

Bumps

The new levels are a lot of fun too. Interestingly, they’re not quite as challenging as some of the earlier ones, but are well designed. The added minigame, Downhill Skiing, is alright, though the tilting to steer is a bit slow to respond.

Finally, the big irk of having to watch the intro each time you load the game is gone, with a simple button to skip the cutscene.

While some of the other minor quibbles remain (I still wish the magnification was toggled to off by default, wish there were more modes, and there are still no achievements) the changes made in Bumps 1.1 have improved the game immensely. The recommendation isn’t conditional anymore: almost every puzzle lover will bounce for Bumps.

Bumps on the iPhone is both as fun and flawed as it's PC counterpart.

Like its PC counterpart, Bumps is about saving your fellow bumps from evil alien invaders by bouncing into keys to free them. Each Bump must… well, bump into a like-colored lock in order to open the cages holding your compatriots. But being nothing more than a ball, they must rely on their ability to bounce off obstacles and use some special in-level power-ups to help them along.

If you’ve played Bumps on the PC, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. You set up the Bumps for a drop by dragging them into position. Once you’re happy, you press the Go button and they drop, hopefully bouncing right where you want them to go. If not you hit the reset button and try again. Do it in fewer attempted and you’ll earn a Gold, Silver or Bronze star for your efforts. As you traverse the game’s six worlds and 54 levels, things get trickier.

Bumps

Bumps’ graphics are delightful. The Bumps themselves are cute as a button, and everything is bright and colorful. Obstacles and items are easy to spot, and everything is bursting with personality. The physics engine seems to be the same as its bigger PC brother, which is to say accurate and logical. You’ll never wonder how a Bump ended up where it did.

Adding to the fun here are a number of additions that are exclusive for the iPhone. There are four minigames available to unlock as you progress, including two-player (on the same screen!) air hockey, a block-busting game, pinball and a shooter game. Also, at the beginning of certain worlds, you can play a bonus minigame involving tilting your iPhone to maneuver a Bump ship away from an Alien like a game of cat-and-mouse. If it turns out tilting gameplay isn’t your thing, this world-starting minigame is entirely skippable.

What isn’t skippable, though, is the opening cutscene, which also plays each and every time you reload the game. While this isn’t a huge gripe, it does underscore the fact that Bumps is dragged down by a lot of little things that add up to be big annoyances.

Bumps

For example, the difficulty spikes that were prevalent in the PC game are still here, even though they aren’t quite as bad as before. It’s very annoying to be stuck with one level to go before completing a world, and the solution just stumps you. Even worse, in a bizarre design decision Bumps doesn’t allow you to reset to your last attempt; the Bumps revert to their starting positions – sometimes miles away from where you wanted them to end up.

Speaking of odd decisions, there is a zoom-in option for fine tuning placement of the Bumps. Given the small size of the iPhone screen, this is most welcome. However, the zoom-in defaults to on, so you’ll often find yourself disabling it while you do the main set-up, then re-activating it afterwards. Again, not a big deal in of itself, but is an annoyance that builds.

In fact, there are no real options in Bumps to speak of. Do you hate the in-game music or sound effects? Wish you could use your own playlist? Too bad. You have no choice but to mute your device. Even if you start to play your own playlist, hoping the iPod function would supersede the in-game music like many other titles, Bumps just gleefully plays its own music on top of yours.
But the biggest issue of all is the same as the PC version. Despite the additional content, once you know the solution to a puzzle, it’s done. There is no incentive to do better, as there are no achievements here. If you wish to get all the gold stars, all you need to do is find the solution, go back to the map screen (thankfully, you don’t have to reboot the game like the PC version), reload the level and grab that gold star.

Bumps

As an aside, seeing the words “We plan to update with more levels and mini games” as part of the App description in the store is just plain annoying. If you know you have this content available, why not just release it, or delay the release of the title to include that much more in it? Given how much feels missing here in Bumps, reading that is simply aggravating.

I really wanted to like Bumps more than I did. On paper, it has everything you’d want in an iPhone game – bite-sized challenges, bright graphics, easy to pick up and play. But it isn’t what’s in the game that drags it down, it’s what is missing. In the end, Bumps feels more like a missed opportunity. There’s nothing majorly wrong here. Bumps as a concept works beautifully on the iPhone. There’s just too much “if only” going on here to prevent Bumps from being a top-tier download. If you’re into physics puzzles and cute graphics, Bumps won’t disappoint; but it may slightly annoy.

Pros:

  • Very cute graphics. Great physics. Fun puzzles, with interesting power-ups. Extra content from PC version, including two-player games.

Cons:

  • Difficulty spikes. No achievements. Always starts with zoomed-in view. Can’t reset to last attempt. Little replay value to main game. Unskippable opening cutscene.
Read more: Bumps, Utopian Games

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