Wobbly Stack AR game

Wobbly Stack AR – Game Review (iOS)

Wobbly Stack AR is a simple Augmented Reality (ARKit) Jenga game. It’s the first game that I’ve played that actually follows the classic game rules, where each block that you remove is stacked up on top of the block pile. The other one block stack AR games that I’ve played Block Tower AR and AR-Tower were different. They were inspired by Jenga but brought their own variation of it. In fact, there are lots of variations, but I love the one that places the removed block at the top, which what Wobbly Stack AR does.

Gameplay & Unique Features

Wobbly Stack AR screenshotWobbly Stack AR has several unique features. First of all, each block color represented a different weight, with the green being the lightest one, followed by the blue and then the red which is the heaviest one. This means that you need to carefully consider which block you remove first. Furthermore, you need to consider that the same block will be put on top starting from the middle and then the sides.  Failing to create a stable structure on top can lead you to fail later on.

You get 1 point for each block removed and 3 points for each completed row formed on top. If a bloc, one that you are not holding, falls on the floor, the game is over.

You can play the game alone or with a friend locally, with each player take his own turn on the same device and the player that causes the tower to collapse or make a block fall on the floor loses the match.

By the way, the game remembers you top score, which encourages players to try to break their own record and add more replay value to the game.

An actual gameplay video.

Physics & Game Controls

What makes Wobbly Stack AR stand out from the rest is the fantastic fine-tuned physics implementation and the precise block-pulling game control with a haptic feedback.

You can clearly see that the developer put a great deal of effort making sure the physics are nailed down correctly. This is very important, without nailing down the physics properly, the game would have felt unmanageable and would have just hurt the gameplay experience. Trust me, I’ve tried some Jenga-like AR games that had terrible physics, some of them were so bad that I just didn’t even bother reviewing them.

Precise game controls, Wobbly Stack AR
Precise game controls that integrate perfectly with the fine-tuned physics.

To remove a block, you need to aim the pointer in the middle of the screen to the exact point you want to pull the block. Then you just move the iPhone or iPad (I played it with my iPad) to the direction where you want to apply the pulling force. You can even just hold the device the same way and just move your body towards that direction. I definitely prefer this type of precise block-removal gameplay mechanic to a swipe gesture. First of all, it’s more precise and you don’t block the screen with your finger.

Overall, I think the developer did a superb job in the physics and game controls aspect of the game, so well done!

AR Experience

You can play Wobbly Stack AR everywhere. You can resize the game to make it fit a small area or make almost large as you are, even taller. I think the maximum is more than 2 meters, but I didn’t measure it.

You can also rotate the base as you play, which is also making it very comfortable to play the game if you position it in a place where it is not possible or not convenient to move around the base, like when playing the game on a table in the living room or near a wall.

The game gives a clear message to the player that he needs to scan for a surface. The app quickly located and scanned a surface and I was ready to play right away.

User Interface & UX

Nice scoring effect
Nice scoring effect

This is actually a place where I did have a problem. When you start the game,  it shows the player some notifications showing him how to play. Although, the block that shows the notification is retractable, there is still a big black frame at the top of the screen.

Same goes to the bottom part, both the score text, the rotation, and scaling buttons just take too much of the vertical space. It leaves a small window from which you can view and play the AR game. This is a terrible design that should be addressed. To much space is given to the user interface, which leads to a poor user experience.

UI vs game area ratio
40% of the screen is covered with disturbing mostly non-transparent user interface, does it make any sense?

To the developer, you can put the scale slider in a hidden setting, reduce the size of the question mark and pause button, remove the background color, put the retractable guide in the settings menu and instead of rotation buttons use swipe gesture. I am not a UI expert, but in my opinion, this design is just wrong.

Conclusion

I first just wanted to write a short preview letting people know about this game. I can’t review every single ARKit game out there. However, after playing Wobbly Stack AR, I thought that there is indeed something in this game that makes it stand out from the rest and it deserved more than just a short preview or a mention on my Facebook or Twitter pages.

Wobbly Stack AR is a fun and challenging physics-based Augmented Reality game. I love the fact that the developer stayed loyal to the standard Jenga rules but added the different block types—it certainly makes the game more strategic and entertaining.

Furthermore, the developer nailed the physics and controls just right. It doesn’t have levels like AR-Tower but because the way it was designed, it promotes a higher replay value whether you are playing it alone or locally with a friend. I know that I will try to break my own record (36) and I definitely going to play it with my little niece when she comes to visit.

I do hope that the developer will address the issues with the UI, it negatively affects the AR gameplay experience. I was playing the game on the iPad, on a large screen, it would feel even worse on the iPhone that has a smaller screen.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the game, a great time killer app and a fun AR game to play with a friend.

You can download Wobbly Stack AR from the App Store here.

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