App of the Day: Hairy Tales

Beard here now.

Hairy Tales, what a name. Behind it is a little bearded bloke you have to guide through levels that are ever-shifting puzzles, an unusual blend of route-planning and frantic mid-run swiping. Strategy-runner? Action-Lemmings? Whenever you're struggling to quite place something in a genre, that's usually a good sign.

The game's about re-arranging levels, mostly, so that a hairy fellow who runs automatically can reach the exit. Certain hexes have fences on them, which will re-direct beardie, while others contain more elaborate contraptions, like a dual fishpond that acts as a teleporter. Each level has scattered collectibles, enemies and power-ups, but all that's needed to complete any stage is to pick up a glowing blue crystal and take it to the endpoint.

The idea is to set up things so our man is safely batted back-and-forth and hoovers up the goodies before checking out. It's a nice idea, but after a gentle opening Hairy Tales ramps up the complexities of its layouts and their elements into something vicious. Parts of each level are corrupted and twisted, which is cured when the crystal comes near, and so have these split paths of zig-zagging around the corruption before clearing a path straight through it. Of course, this is another little thing to factor into 100%-ing each level. But though Hairy Tales caters to completionists and offers a stiff challenge, its saving grace is the ability to progress with the bare minimum, letting you crest over its more baffling layouts.

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Each stage has three mushrooms to collect, and it's these that hold the real challenge in Hairy Tales - merely completing the stages, at least until the latter part of world 2, is easy.

The final touch, or twist of the knife, is the ability to move and rearrange platforms while our hirsute hero is running. This is interesting because in only a few cases is it strictly required for you to complete the level. But when you're talking about taking clever shortcuts, or collecting every single item, suddenly it becomes a key tool in the arsenal - and one that, in my case at least, very often backfires.

Hairy Tales hits that Lemmings-like feel with this part of its system, because what you're trying to do is fudge a solution to something that could probably be solved much more elegantly. The comparison doesn't go any further than that, because Hairy Tales is a much simpler game, but even to whiff of such exalted predecessors is impressive.

At times it's a sliding block puzzle and at others it's like Mousetrap, the constant centre your wild-eyed beardie running here and there and back again. Hairy Tales is more than just a great name - and, as a debut title, suggests a bright future for Arges Systems.

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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