Armadillo Run is a build-and-simulate puzzle game in the same vein as Bridge Construction Set and The Incredible Machine. In fact, the game essentially plays as a hybrid of the two. The goal of the game is to guide the armadillo–it’s basically a basketball–to the target area. To accomplish this you have a limited budget to spend on building materials like metal struts, cloth, rope, and rockets. Like most physics games, the open-ended nature of the simulation allows for multiple creative solutions to any given level. Armadillo Run is fun even when it stumps you.
New Flexibility = New Complexity
Armadillo Run’s physics engine resembles the classic physics game, Bridge Builder. Even when compared to Bridge Builder’s most recent incarnation, though, Armadillo Run wins out in terms of sheer features. The game has cloth, rope, and elastic (although technically these are all simply tightly-knit series of spring segments). Other options are available, too, including setting the tension of joints and setting timers to remove specific joints after a desired amount of time.
These features do allow for more flexibility in solving a puzzle, but they also introduce more complexity. It can take a few budget-breaking attempts before what you’re supposed to do becomes obvious. Depending on your appreciation for puzzle games, this will either infuriate or delight you; a lot of fun is learning how to use these building materials in clever ways.
Finally, a Usable Interface
The interface in Armadillo Run is slick. Rather than forcing you to draw on a grid, you can simply draw supports wherever you like. The game will automatically segment pieces while you draw them. The metal support structures have a maximum length. This makes dense construction slightly more difficult. The payoff is it’s much faster to create larger structures, which most of the levels require.
Other niceties are present, including the ability to drag a midpoint around after it’s already been drawn. The game features a single level of undo, which is unfortunate. It would really benefit from a proper undo stack, especially when you realize your supposedly-clever structural addition is a complete failure.
The player goal in Armadillo Run is very loose, particularly in contrast to other physics-based puzzle games. The goal is to get the ball–come on, that’s a pretty weak-looking armadillo–into the end zone for five consecutive seconds. Basically, as long as you can fudge it for a full five seconds you can pass the level. Many of my solutions feel slightly unstable, but I guess that’s part of the game’s allure.
I do miss having a clear route to goal for each level. Many of the levels in Armadillo Run drop you off at the proverbial curb and force you to find your own way home. While it is fun to create free-form structures, I would have liked to see some levels focus more the structural stability elements of the gameplay.
Level Editor and Other Goodies
To be fair, I don’t have much ground to stand on when it comes to complaining about the game’s stock levels. The developer, Peter Stock, included a level editor with the game. If I really wanted to see more levels focus on stable construction chops, rather than clever tricks, I could make some levels more along those lines. The Armadillo Run website has a database area where other players can share their levels and solutions, too. The game launched less than a month ago, so it remains to be seen how prolific the game’s community will become.
Run Armadillo Run!
Armadillo Run represents the evolution of puzzle physics games. It is both familiar and new, and offers something fresh for players bored with building bridge after bridge.
Download Armadillo Run game demo (1.56 MB)
- Heading Down Under!
- 2007 IGF Finalists Announced
- Indies Have Opportunity with Physics Games
- Beautiful, Frustrating Puzzle Physics
- Interview: Peter Stock, Armadillo Run