As any video game developer worth his salt will tell you, you can spice anything up with enough explosives.

Take Blast-A-Way for example. At its core it's a fairly straightforward 3D spatial puzzler. Add in a few combustibles, though, and it suddenly becomes something more.

Da bomb

You take control of a pair of robots, who must blast their way through five worlds worth of colour-coded levels. In each level you have to collect three boxies - little box-shaped knick-knacks - before scarpering to the exit point.

You'll encounter various pieces of equipment to help you in your task. Your main tool is an assortment of colour-activated bombs. Blue bombs can take out blue sections of the level, red bombs red sections, and so on.

Bombs come in a variety of flavours, from the default impact bombs that explode on contact with the appropriate surface to the stickies that you attach like limpet mines. Later, there are sponge bombs that absorb the colour of the first surface they touch before bouncing on their way.

So begins Blast-A-Way's mildly taxing excavate-'em-up gameplay.

Throw like a robot from 1984

Coloured blocks obstruct your path to the exit point, or trap boxies and additional items, and so you need to clear them away.

As well as bombs there are teleporters to utilise. These will transport you however far you can throw them - provided they land on the corresponding colour of tile.

Aiming isn't an issue. Your robots will lob whatever device they have to hand with pinpoint precision, and they'll generally apply enough power to reach your target, too. You just touch and hold on a surface to throw.

The real skill is in judging the angle. Hitting the right part of the target can mean the difference between a boxie landing on a platform or falling off the side of the level. In addition there are often obstacles in the way, requiring delicate lobs or low skimmers to get through.

Indeed, it's the imaginatively placed level furniture that really makes Blast-A-Way stand out. Each level is an intricate puzzle that usually requires a clear chain of actions to unravel.

Before long there are coloured portals that change the colour of anything that passes through, and warp gates that transport objects across large gaps (and call to mind the Portal series on PC and console).

Controlled explosion

All this is presented wonderfully, with a crisp, clean art style. It looks great on the new iPad's Retina display - particularly the LittleBigPlanet-style materials of each themed world representing wood, material, metal, stone, and plastic. Each world offers some new element to mix things up a bit, too.

The only thing we can really fault Blast-A-Way on is its controls. They're fine early on when you're going through simple stages at a slow pace, but they gum up just as you want them to be more fluid in the trickier sections.

The issue lies in too many key elements making demands of your iOS device's touchscreen - view changes, panning, locking onto objects, aiming, firing, and movement are all activated by the same prods and swipes, but to different parts of the screen.

Yes, all iOS games are like this to an extent, but we never quite felt comfortable and often struggled to rein the camera view in here.

It's worth mastering, though. Blast-A-Way is a fresh and zingy puzzler set in a an alluring universe with bags of all-round appeal - provided you handle with care.

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