Hundreds (Of Hours Wasted)

I love gaming on my iPads, but beyond writing reviews for it here, I don’t do it a lot. I find that even the games that I love playing through here are things I don’t end up sticking with — and I’ve reviewed some incredible games for this site. But I’m just not much of a hardcore gamer. I really belong in the casual gamer category. I love Letterpress, but that was the first iOS game that really grabbed me and didn’t let go. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great games out there, but there are few I truly get addicted to.

Games really have to be built for a touch screen if I’m going to get hooked. Some are a ton of fun — great games — but others don’t feel like they’ve been made for a touch screen. A great iPad or iPhone game should be easy to pick up, be quick to play through and require lots of time to master without ever getting frustrating. It’s a really difficult balance, and few games ever achieve it. Hundreds is one of those rare games.

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How to Play

Let's begin.

Let’s begin.

There are floating circles with numeric values inside them. You’re going to tap on them as they move around your screen, and the circles are going to get larger. As they get larger, their values will increase. Once their values get to 100, you can move on to the next level. The circles’ individual values might be less than 100, but their sum needs to be 100 in order to move on. It’s pretty simple on paper, and very simple when you actually play.

Alright — simple enough!

Alright — simple enough!

You fail to complete the level if you are touching a circle while it collides with another circle. Later on, many other obstacles will get in your way as you play. It’s a challenge to try and beat some levels, but never so frustrating that you want to throw your iPad at a wall. The game’s blend of challenge without frustration is its greatest accomplishment, in my opinion. It’s incredibly satisfying to get past a tricky spot, but it’s also a lot of fun to fail a million times. My roommate had a good time watching me get frustrated and obstinately more determined at the same time, all while laughing at my own foolishness. There’s something about the design of the game that just makes you feel like the fault isn’t the game — it’s you.

What’s Red, Grey, and White All Over?

To put it bluntly, I’d go beyond describing Hundreds’ design as simple and call it minimalist. Grey balls sit against a white background, and when you touch them, they turn red. The colour are as simple as possible. The animations are as simple as possible, too. Describing Hundreds as CPU-intensive would be a blatant lie.

It's not hard to appreciate the game's simplicity when you start playing.

It’s not hard to appreciate the game’s simplicity when you start playing.

That being said, describing it as beautiful and detailed would be honest. Everything about this game indicates the huge amount of detail and pride that Semi Secret Software took in developing it. The music is sublime and totally worth listening to as you play (not to mention it’s sort of soothing in the game’s more difficult moments), the sound effects are carefully chosen, and the colours are admittedly perfect choices.

One of the lovely puzzling messages you'll encounter throughout the game.

One of the lovely puzzling messages you’ll encounter throughout the game.

The careful design is really reassuring. There was never a moment where I thought that the game was purposely working against me. I’m not naive enough to believe that games are purposely made to be impossible to complete, but I do believe that glitches happen. I never felt that Hundreds was prone to glitches.

There are some things in the game that are so well thought-out that you’re not likely to notice them. iCloud syncs your progress between your devices. I didn’t realize it until I picked up the game on my iPad mini after playing it for a couple hours on my iPad. My iPhone is synced up too. It’s barely advertised and there’s no on switch, it just happens — and that’s exactly how iCloud syncing should happen.

Level Select is the most complicated screen you'll see all game.

Level Select is the most complicated screen you’ll see all game.

Addictive Qualities

There’s something about Hundreds that really mesmerizes everybody that watches me play. I like to sit with my iPad in front of the TV when my roommate and I are hanging out. We watch seasons of TV shows on Blu-ray, and right now we’re watching Lost, which I’ve seen a couple times. He’s never seen it before. I bring out the iPad with me, and every time I start playing Hundreds, he starts peering over to see how I’m doing. If I let him, I’m pretty sure he’d take my iPad and start playing Hundreds with it.

The real problem is that I have some issues putting it down. It’s infiltrated on a couple social situations. My parents call and I’m half-listening, but fully invested in the game. After all, there’s a lot to play through. There’s over 100 levels, and I’m nowhere near done. I have to finish. (I don’t know what happens after that, but I figure at the rate I’m going, I’ll be getting more than my money’s worth out of it.) This is your warning: Hundreds is a game that you’re going to get hooked on.

I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though. At the end of the day, I don’t feel any guilt. As addicted as I am to Hundreds, I know that if I bought the game for my parents or even my younger sister, they’d all get hooked too.


Summary

A minimalist puzzler that's so much addicting fun it's impossible not to recommend, with the warning that you should prepare to get addicted.

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