|System: Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Deep Silver||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Deep Silver||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
When you think of the Nintendo DS, you likely consider it first and foremost for its great library of handheld games, not for its technical prowess. But did you know the DS can actually pull off realistic, ragdoll physics? Back in December 2007, the homebrew scene produced a cutting-edge physics sandbox (Pocket Physics) on DS, and now publishers are expanding on that model. Deep Silver has recently released Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity, and we took this science experiment through its paces to see what we could create.
Actually, Gravity has less to do with letting players create their own physics scenarios and more of a focus on solving preset puzzles. There are 100 physics-based puzzles in total, along with five sandbox areas and three mini-games. That may sound like a lot of content, but depending on your knack for working out these sorts of conundrums, you could easily breeze through the game in about two to three hours.
Each level presents you with a switch that must be activated in order to end the level. A ball or other object is released from a specific area of a level, and you'll then need to use various items in order to create a sequence that will trigger the end switch - a Rube Goldberg machine if you will.
The puzzles are clever, often eliciting a smile as you work them out, though the level of challenge jumps around quite a bit. For the most part, the physics in the game work quite well. However, items used to solve puzzles are also bound by the game's physic during the placement process, and this causes all sorts of frustration throughout the game.
Additionally, the game's interface and controls are extremely counter-intuitive; if you're left-handed, you might as well forget this game exists. You'll be required to use the stylus, faces buttons, and D-pad - in most cases, simultaneously. There is no left-handed configuration, and as a southpaw, I found myself having to become a contortionist in order to play this game.
To solve Gravity's puzzles, you'll need to make use of a limited selection of objects on hand within each level. To use these objects, you simply tap anywhere on the touch screen to open up the game's object window, then select whatever items you want to use by dragging them onto an area of the level. Sounds easy enough
In order to change the direction in which an object sits, you're required to use the left and right directional inputs on the D-pad. You can't remove your stylus from the screen, however, because, again, items used from your toolbox are also bound by the game's physics. The result? A messy interface that's almost at complete odds with everything that's inherently fun about the DS as a gaming device
As an example, I had to hold objects with my stylus, using my thumb, index, and middle finger - the way I normally do - while simultaneously using my pinky and ring finger to adjust how objects were sitting, all while battling the game's bouncy physics. I eventually came to terms with the game's mechanics, but it was never comfortable and managed to suck out a good deal of the fun of solving puzzles. Perhaps right-handed gamers will have better luck with Gravity.
That said, each puzzle is unique and offers an enjoyable challenge that tasks players to - pardon the phrase - "think outside the box." We're not sure if Professor Wolff (yes, he's a real person of some renown within scholarly circles) had any real hand in creating the gameplay for Gravity, though he does offer his insights about physics and video games on the game's official website.