Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Builder Physics Games Evolved: Armadillo Run

Monday, May 15th, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 1,074 votes, average: 4.15 out of 5)

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.

Sloppy Goals

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.

Armadillo Run Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Armadillo Run Game Screenshots)

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)

The full version is available for $19.99 from the Armadillo Run website.

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32 Responses to 'Builder Physics Games Evolved: Armadillo Run'

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  1. Gregory said,

    on May 15th, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Extremely fun game, BB fans will LOVE it.

  2. Verners said,

    on May 15th, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    The demo levels are quite easy and uninteresting, but the previews are damn fine, seems like a realy fun game…

  3. Matthew said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Verners: The later levels force you to do some crazy shit; the full version is definitely worth it if the genre appeals to you. I’m on level 31 and really starting to feel the hurt on my mental facilities…

  4. fluffy bunny said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 12:42 am

    Vermes: Also, there’s a couple of levels in the demo where you can just experiment with doing weird stuff. Ignore the budget for a bit and see what you can make, just for fun. :-)

    Urgh, back to work… one of the annoying things about working at home is that I’m working on the same computer that I play on. So now, every time I look at my desktop, I see Armadillo Run – and there’s still six hours at least before I can touch it… :-/

  5. Verners said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 5:02 am

    Damn, somehow didnt think about ignoring the budget, will try it out….

  6. PoV said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 8:02 am

    Ok! What’s this audio madness I’m hearing durring this video? I can’t help but be intrigued.

  7. Capuchin said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 10:25 am

    After a few too many hours spent on this I finally completed level 50.. Now for the extras.. X_x.
    Way, WAY too fun.

  8. Matthew said,

    on May 16th, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    PoV: The audio is some random MP3 that came across on playlist shuffle at the time: “edIT – 2080 Instrumental”

  9. Matthew said,

    on May 17th, 2006 at 12:27 am

    I just wrapped up all of the levels, although I haven’t tackled the extra stages yet. I really enjoyed myself!

  10. Quin said,

    on May 17th, 2006 at 11:30 am

    I was hoping this was free.

    Oh well…the reviews made it look awsome and I was thinking “Free game?” untill I saw the price it was.

    Though the demo was fun…I would kinda like to play the full version.

    Anyways…Good game nontheless.

    Thanks Matthew!

  11. Jack (Wunderbear) said,

    on May 17th, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Hmmm. It’s a good demo; unfortunately, I don’t have the means to purchase the game, so it shall remain an oddity.

    I just wish I could try those there rockets; they look awesome.

  12. Gregory said,

    on May 17th, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    I bought the full version, it’s really fun. The rockets make it easy to mess around and go thousands over budget. I made some complicated multi-stage rockets once when I was bored :P

  13. Alec said,

    on May 17th, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    I have to say, having played the full version almost to the end, I find this game to be less satisfying than the Bridge Builder series. As the review mentions, the contraptions you create are basically one-off hacks. As a result you (or at least I) frequently build hideous-looking abominations that take advantage of every loophole/quirk in the engine to get the job done inelegantly but cheaply. There’s no satisfaction in looking back on those jobs.

    Furthermore, the game gives you pieces based solely on price – a rocket costs $1000, a metal plate $20, etc. – which ends up curtailing the variety of levels, because you can’t have a level where you, say, have only rockets but no metal. This contributes to every level feeling pretty similar. By the time I stopped, I was viewing each level as a chore rather than an interesting opportunity or challenge, as with the bridge builder levels.

  14. Torbjørn said,

    on May 20th, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    Yeah, I guess the problem with this game is that, while the physics engine is wonderful and really stable and fun to play with, the levels don’t really give much motivation for the player to construct interesting contraptions and it seems to me making such levels would be hard given the tools at the level designer’s disposal. In Bridge Builder, the level was the terrain, which wasn’t something you could do anything but work with, and in the end the bridge is the wonderful masterpiece that defied economy and sound engineering practice, and maybe collapse spectacularly after two minutes, but the train got across, dammit! In this game, though, the only “level” you get are the anchor points, which you can only do so much with, level design wise, and ready-made contraptions, and the problem with both of these is that you never end up building something you’re proud of when it finally works. Even if you manage to complete the level, either the result is a rickety mess of girders that looks like crap, or it’s just some disfiguring addition to the level designer’s zany machine, and neither is much to look at. I can’t really imagine how to change this game into something that’s as fun as BB, which is sad, because I really love the engine. I’m sure it’s possible though. I’d definitely pay for it (again).

  15. fluffy bunny said,

    on May 21st, 2006 at 8:06 am

    It almost seems like you’ve playing a completely different version of the game than I have, Torbjørn. I’ve constructed lots of mechanisms and contraptions that I’m proud of. Sure, there are some ugly jimmyfix-solutions as well, but I had a few of those in Bridge Builder too.

  16. Torbjørn said,

    on May 21st, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    Well, I find it much more likely that we’ve been playing the same version, but differently. I guess I’ll rather spend an hour fine-adjusting the rocket-with-cloth-pouch so that it drops the ball right into the target than spending the same money on some weird gravity balance lift or whatever. I guess the problem, for me, is that lazy solutions are possible. In Bridge Builder you can’t just say “Screw constructing a balanced and stable bridge construction, I’m building me a train jump.” and then complete the level that way. You’re forced to think things through and do a proper job, and that way you’re also forced to have fun (if you think constructing balanced and stable bridge constructions is fun, which you ought to, if you paid for Bridge Builder). Armadillo Run doesn’t force me to do a proper job, and so I end up with solutions that literally shame me.

  17. Jack (Wunderbear) said,

    on May 22nd, 2006 at 11:34 am

    I remember a competition version demo of Bridge Builder, where you had to build a bridge with two train levels, and drawbridges for two ships. My solution was a horribly huge crazy, crooked design and I loved it. :D
    When I started the test, I played the Thunderbirds danger music.

  18. on June 4th, 2006 at 10:10 am

    […] Update: A more detailed review (that unfortunatly gives away the solution to some of the levels of the full game). […]

  19. Dosou said,

    on June 5th, 2006 at 11:35 am

    AAAAAAAAAAH I WANT THAT edIT – 2080 instrumental!!!!

  20. on June 10th, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    […] Further information via  […]

  21. Daniel said,

    on June 13th, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    19.99$!!! oh well nice demo though thanks matthew

  22. Lollerskates said,

    on June 26th, 2006 at 7:45 am

    THis remind me of Newtons Playground..

  23. AtkinsSJ said,

    on July 26th, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Wow. The Incredible Machine and The Bridge Construction Set were exactly the games I thought of when I first played it!
    It’s great fun, and well worth buying.

  24. friggybum said,

    on August 9th, 2006 at 2:14 am

    Sup Matthieu, I just recently discovered this game and figured I should tell you about it. Of course a quick google tells me you’re already on top of things. So, on that note… Sup.

    I agree with all the complaints about the games too-heavy focus on budgeting.

  25. Sloppydoodoo said,

    on January 26th, 2007 at 6:14 am

    The full game rocks! I keep blowing it up with rockets!

  26. MadFooBar said,

    on February 3rd, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Well, I just tried the demo and it does look very cool. I miss playing TIM quite a few years ago! Yet, when I was at the end (?) of the demo, where it says that there are multiple ways to complete each level and shows one, it gets stuck. Continue will do nothing and I had to ALT-F4 the game. Probably just a demo glitch and it may not hamper the full version. I’ll see if that’s the case when I purchase it.

  27. dapaperboy said,

    on February 24th, 2007 at 3:34 am

    buy this game asap. it will take you a long time with postiive frusteration from beating your score and getting to the next level. besides the 50 levels (i think thats it), you can download custom made levels from other people off the site for more ball bouncing bugeting chaos. technicly there are invinte levels because of the level editor. also, dont cheat because that will ruin the fun and when i cheated in the demo version (i didnt buy it because my mom wont let me but im still asking her if i can) i had bad luck for the rest of week!

  28. Bobo00711 said,

    on February 25th, 2007 at 2:51 am

    [email protected]

  29. Bobo00711 said,

    on February 25th, 2007 at 6:05 am

    add me for the kcarc

  30. Cello9213 said,

    on June 7th, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I tried the demo and it was really fun.
    So I bought the game and it was even MORE fun!!

    This is a great game, especially with the ability to put your own solutions or custom levels online, and download other peoples’ solutions or levels.

    My favorite thing to do is to build wild-looking structures in the edit level mode and see what happens when I put tension or compression somewhere, or try to pull it over using very tense elastic cords =)

  31. Derds said,

    on February 6th, 2008 at 11:16 am


  32. kjk said,

    on April 20th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    “like bridge builder or crayon physics” yes, I made incredable chain reactions (rube goldburg esque) my trick is to make them not suseptable in initial conditions, then it can be tested mid-way through.

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