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Pros: Open-ended gameplay and clever wheel and gear resources challenge kids to find their own solutions.
Cons: Tricky fine-motor requirements and lack of hints might lead to frustration.
Bottom Line: Kids will engage with open-ended puzzles as they experiment with simple machines and physics.
Editor's Note: Space Physics is no longer available.
Space Physics is a simple machines and physics game with Tron-like graphics. Kids come up with limitless solutions to a single, simple challenge: Make the ball touch the star. Each puzzle presents a set of resources and obstacles, and through repeated attempts, kids get better and better at solving it. Kids can learn how slope, momentum, and gravity interact with solids, levers, gears, and wheels. An additional challenge: moon-like gravity with only select anchored solids.
By drawing lines and shapes, wheels and gears, levers and ... pretty much anything, kids frantically coax the ball forward. They can retry any number of times, and no two solutions are exactly alike. The simplest puzzle requires that kids bridge a gap by drawing a line from the ball to the star, and then tap to the side of the ball to start it rolling. A more complex puzzle has a rotating gear attached to an X. The ball falls from above, gets rotated, and must be guided to the star directly under the X. Upon startup, the app asks players to sign up for news and updates, but this is optional. Top 50 global rankings give highest level solved, time, and date. The free Pack for Space Physics must be downloaded to get all 80 levels and sounds.
About 80 levels present some very challenging and clever puzzles to solve, but there are some problems. Drawn shapes are imprecise and irregular but easily deleted and redrawn. Creating wheels and gears can be tough –- they often turn out as circles if not precise enough. Scenarios don't end until the ball falls or touches the star, which can take quite a while. Kids will need to get in the habit of double-tapping to clean up unsuccessful attempts, and those prone to frustration might need extra guidance and support to keep them on track. A tutorial describes basic gameplay (though with numerous grammatical errors).