Steady on, frisky. Apple hasn’t loosened the App Store standards, for Eager Beaver deals not with up-for-it foo-foos but with the actual animals – or rather, one of them. Edgar, the game’s titular rodent, is particularly fond of building dams, and has such a talent for doing so with his great big robot that his mates have simply given up trying to help. Edgar’s solo wood-stacking becomes the epicentre of this fun, functional physics-based puzzler, with not a vajayjay in sight.
• Developer: Gamagio
• Publisher: Chillingo
• Reviewed on: iOS (iPad)
• Also Available On: iOS (iPhone/iPod Touch)
• Release Date: Available Now
Layered with thin-cut cartoony visuals and the soundtrack of an 80s Saturday morning cartoon, Eager Beaver is well-presented, if a little rough around the edges. Edgar boasts the shifty eyes of a serial killer in the making and alternates between unintelligible gibberish and cringe-worthy Fauxstralian – so he’s lacking in a bit of charm.
However, the competent gameplay makes up for any presentation issues. You operating Edgar’s crane with a slide of a finger; immediately releasing it deploys one of several types of block into the water which lines the lower half of the screen, with the ultimate aim being to stack enough up to clear the waterline.
Scoring is based on the number of blocks used, and the difficulty increases with each progressive set of levels; eventually the water is strewn with dynamite, mines, block-knocking fish and other traps which will, all too often, take advantage of the perilous physics engine. Achieving perfect ratings in each stage is tricky, unaided by the fact that some traps are rather ill-explained as they are introduced: depending on your point of view, the game either rewards experimentation or is lazy in introducing new concepts. Read into that as you will.
The release-and-deploy control scheme also has its issues; swiping may well cover the block you’re attempting to manipulate on-screen, and attempting to switch fingers to hold onto the block will cause it to drop into the water anyway. A release button may have served better. But, by and large, it’s loosely functional – like a dog with three legs.
Despite any flaws, Eager Beaver has its moments. Nailing a stage with precision or besting the game’s balance of physics-centric and trap-layered levels is its own reward, and it’s more than ideal for a morning commute when Cut the Rope and Angry Birds have had their fill. The presentation might be a bit long in the tooth (har-de-har) and the game as a whole is hardly breaking new gameplay ground, but for something quick and easy to gnaw on (tee hee), it’s hard to go wrong for 69p. You can’t even buy a magazine of eager beavers for that, and this is probably more fun and less likely to induce feelings of emptiness.