App of the Day: Girls Like Robots

Mech up or break up.

Girls Like Robots reminds me of a wedding I was at earlier this year. As someone with good-looking friends that insist on pairing off with other good-looking people, I am well versed in the forced social mingling required when these unions are formalised. All must obey the seating plan - the sacred text of such occasions - and some unlucky chap (me) will realise they are to spend the next few hours sipping very nice soup with people they have never met in their life.

It doesn't have to be this way. Sometimes you are happily sat with friends, a table full of cheerful faces and hands to pass around the bubbly. But other times you are sat explaining your job to someone who has never heard of video games, and whose wife simply won't pass the bottle no matter how many glasses she's had.

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Adult Swim's Girls Like Robots has, however, made me realise that sometimes there is never going to be an ideal solution for everyone. The game places you - more or less - in the role of a dinner table planner. Or to be specific, the organiser of a sudoku-esque grid of social types that must be slotted in together without too many people getting upset.

Girls like robots, for some reason, and will be chuffed to sit alongside them. Robots also like girls, which is handy, but surround them entirely with females and they'll get nervous. Geeks also like girls, it turns out. But girls don't like geeks. From this very basic set of social conventions comes the basis of a brain-scratching puzzler which grows more complicated as an increasingly nebulous cast of characters is introduced.

The happiness of your guests is tracked by an on-screen gauge, with various levels necessary to receive each levels' bronze, silver and gold medals. Guests arrive in a random order, so it is necessary to try and plan ahead for who is going to be next and mistakes can only be corrected one at a time by hitting an undo button.

You're rapidly tasked with more ingenious puzzles as the game's charming story of high school cliques, young romance and entomology takes hold. Level grids grow larger and extra pieces more diverse. Pie is loved by all human characters to the extent that it can overcome the dislike between a geek tile and a girl tile. But place it next to a robot and they quickly become incensed. One character only likes ladybird tiles, meanwhile, which chase regular girl tiles away.

These standard-type levels are interspersed with other mini-games where players must use the character tiles to act out the plot. Need to fight killer bugs with fire ants in a giant volcano? Girls Like Robots will show you how. The whole thing is stitched together by a series of genuinely funny cut-scenes, and Adult Swim's snappy dialogue keeps things crackling. Ingenious, fresh and smartly designed, Girls Like Robots has been oiled to perfection.

App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments. For daily app coverage, check out our sister site Modojo.

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