Digital Legends seems to think that the character of Nutty Sam is cute and charming. We disagree.
Om Nom, the star of Cut the Rope, was charming. Some fantastic incidental animations combined with an occasional squeak of disappointment or delight gave the impression of a loveable little critter.
Nutty Sam, on the other hand, is like a mewling alien baby. Finish a level successfully and the titular purple blob monster produces a looped noise that will make you want to cleanse your iPhone with fire.
Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot
Thanks to Nutty Sam's breezy presentation and a pleasantly upbeat soundtrack, though, such horrors are soon forgotten.
Tasking you with shepherding Nutty Sam to the end of each of the 60 levels, collecting three golden nuts (think nuts and bolts rather than cashews) along the way, the game has you utilising Sam’s expanding suite of abilities to reach your goal.
He can inflate himself up to float upwards, use his monstrous lizard tongue to latch to throw levers or catapult himself away from posts. Later in the game, new environmental objects appear, such as pressure plates and bouncy mushrooms, adding more possibilities for ingenious puzzle designs.
Elegance is next to godliness
But the ingenious puzzle designs never really appear. Solutions often feel scrappy, and in many levels you won’t be quite sure whether you’ve found the planned solution or discovered a way to circumvent the level designer’s intentions.
Upon completing each level you’re told how many moves it took you, compared to the par for that stage - an idea that should seemingly discourage this kind of scrappy play. But there’s no incentive to justify this kind of obsessive replaying, and the gameplay isn’t strong enough to have you repeating levels for fun.
This lack of polish extends to other parts of the game, too, and when you get stuck in a level’s scenery for the fifth time, or when the game loops Sam’s falling animation endlessly rather than recognising that you’ve landed safely on a platform, it can become difficult to enjoy Nutty Sam.
Nuts to you, McGillicutty
But when it isn’t shoving its technical inadequacies in your face, Nutty Sam works as a game, and it’s frustrating that it can’t maintain a consistent level of quality.
The puzzles never feel inspired or even particularly elegant, but Sam’s suite of powers is varied enough to keep things interesting, and this breed of three-star puzzler is always well suited to mobile play.
In fact, the game often goes out of its way to be accommodating. If you’re stuck on a level, the next one is always open to try instead, meaning that your progress never falters for too long. In fact, the whole game’s difficulty curve is pitched so as to keep you moving steadily through the levels, rather than to pose a substantial challenge.
This can be very pleasant, as you dreamily move from stage to stage, trying hard to mute the game quickly whenever you reach the level goal. But eventually you’ll hit one glitch too many, and you’ll toss Nutty Sam aside. And there just aren’t quite enough reasons for you to pick him up again.