Racing against the sands of time running out

First impressions

We have to admit that when we were first shown Sand Slides, we weren’t all that dazzled. Resembling something you might see at an industrial paint factory (if such a thing exists) the screen merely had three chutes hanging in a line that kept filling with digitally coloured “sand”.

Beneath them were three collectors matching the sand colours, but in different order. Oh yes, and for some inexplicable reason there was an animated ocean graphic in the background. We got that sand and water went together like sea and sunsets, but as we didn’t see red or blue sand on Seven Mile Beach the last time we ventured out there, we wondered a bit at the design. Then we played the game.

How to play

This is definitely an app where you’ll want to go through the brief tutorial, or you could be looking at coloured sand spilling all over the place and your score going into the toilet. Once you’ve had your quick lesson, it’ll be time to play for real. Go to “Start Game” and the options are listed as follows: Practice, Marathon, Challenge, Brutal, Insane. For any of you who have spent your lives wondering what could possibly be worse than brutal, if nothing else this game answers that question.

Whichever one you choose, the fun begins with one of the chutes filling with coloured sand and the activation of a timer. Once the timer ends the vat spills its load. You have that time to draw a line on the screen with your finger to direct it to the correct colour-coded collector. Simple, right? Well don’t be getting all cocky and confident because that’s when the fun really begins. You’re barely filling one collector when hey-ho another chute starts filling up, and guess what? It needs to be directed to a collector way across the other side, which means it will have to cross the line you drew for the first one and mayhem could now possibly ensue if the colours mix. Chaos I tell you.

Of course, there are little tricks and such to help you keep the colours pure. Por ejemplo, you can draw a little catchment area under one chute so that when the sand pours out, it’s caught rather than contaminating the other little process you’ve got going on. Once the coast is clear, you can direct the sand to its proper target. Crisis averted! The more correct colours you get into the correct collectors, the higher your score, particularly when you are managing two at the same time, but if you start a-spillin’ and a-mixin’ then points get taken away. Hit “0” and your days of coloured grains are over. Until you play again, of course.

When we played

We took our own advice and went through the tutorial, followed by the Practice round. It all seemed easy stuff, and we liked drawing lines on the screen with our finger and watching the pretty sand far more than we’d usually care to admit. It was visually fun, and there was a bit of skill involved. Perhaps this could keep us occupied for a while. Just like Dr. Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, our pulse never went above 85. Maybe we were just cool customers.

Feeling that perhaps we were above this Sand Slides app, we decided to forgo all the middle options in the menu and go Insane. At the beginning we didn’t get what all the hoo-ha was about. This didn’t seem so insane to us. But then we saw that the chutes weren’t pouring quite as neatly as they had before, and because our lines to the collectors weren’t all that, we were losing valuable grains. Timers seemed faster, collectors seemed less forgiving and unable to take all we were feeding them, and suddenly we felt we were trying to control a rainbow run amok. We realised that perhaps we weren’t as gifted as we originally thought, and decided to go back and Practice a while longer with maybe a hint of Marathon before we went to the more challenging levels.

Final thoughts

This is definitely a more challenging game than it first appears, and because it doesn’t require anything beyond quick thought and a talent for drawing lines with your finger, it can be played by a wide range of ages. When you first look at it you might not think much of it, but when someone is begging you to please turn it off and join in the conversation, you’ll realise it’s got ya. Luckily you can pause and save.

Pros: Don’t have to be on the Internet to play. Many levels to test your skills and temper. Good for all ages. You can pause and save your games by clicking the “Grains” scoreboard at the top.

Cons: Difficult to get out of the tutorial once you’re in it, but it’s not long anyway, so … White sand will seem so boring afterward.

Sand Slides

Seller: Paul Carter/Logik State

Cost: $0.99

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Rating: E for Everyone, Three Stars

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