If you've ever been to an arcade or carnival, chances are you have tried to win a stuffed animal of some sort from one of those claw machines. Notice I used the word "tried"? I'm still convinced no one has ever won something out of a claw machine and they are specifically designed just to frustrate people — or perhaps just me.
Conspiracies theories aside, Part Time UFO is a very charming game that takes the simple mechanic of a claw machine and makes it fun, engaging, and all sorts of silly.
I'm not entirely sure what aliens will do when they make the first contact here on Earth; however, I hope there are as helpful as Part Time UFO portrays because that would be convenient.
The premise of the game is quite simple, you play as a UFO which is in need of some money, and because of your super handy giant claw, you find odd jobs grabbing things and moving them around.
The first job you get starts off simple; you need to help a farmer put his oranges back in his truck. The important items to complete each level will be flashing white, so you always know where to find them; however, each level other items will be available to pick up an move around.
Challenges are fantastic
Part Time UFO would be boring if all you did was pick up objects and move them over, but luckily for us, the developers have a few tricks up their selves.
Each level has three different challenges you need to complete. One challenge is always to beat the level (move all the essential items to the right place) in the allotted time, but the other challenges are where the game shines.
The game doesn't spell out how to complete each challenge, but rather gives you a little pictogram that you have to decipher yourself. Sometimes it may be moving certain other items to a certain place, stacking items on top of each other, or even creating a certain tableau at the end of the level. When you complete a challenge, you'll be awarded a medal; as you earn more medals, more levels will be unlocked.
I don't want to ruin the game for you, so I'm not going to outline what each challenge is, but I can tell you that some of them are hard to pull off. The physics in the game are a little wonky, which makes completing certain challenges quite difficult, but extremely entertaining.
I can't tell you how many times I had to redo a level just to figure out what each challenge was through some trial and error. The good news is the game rewards you with money — which you can buy cool outfits with — and it helps you progress in the game, so each completed challenge feels like you earned something.
Although this is the first iOS game for HAL Laboratory Inc., the developers are no strangers to making great games. You may recognize their name from being attached to some giant Nintendo titles like Super Smash Bros. and Kirby. I'm glad their first entry in the App Store is such a fun game and I hope to see more from them.
I think my only complaint about Part Time UFO is the lack of replayability. There's only about 25 levels in the game, and although the challenges are difficult enough that you won't burn through it too quickly, once you have beaten the game, there's really no reason to play it again. If replayability is a huge reason you download games on your iPhone, you may want to think twice.
That being said, Part Time UFO is a very well-designed game that feels original and fresh all while relying on a game mechanic that has been around since before video games were even a thing. The visuals, soundtrack, and wacky gameplay will provide you with a ton of fun before you're done with it, and it's $3.99 price tag isn't too hard to swallow.
Other games this week
I can't write a full review of every game I play, but there are plenty of great games every week that are worth checking out. Here are some other games I enjoyed this week!
Evoland 2: That's right, Evoland has a sequel and it is everything you loved from the original and more. With over 20 hours of gameplay, this epic adventure is a giant love letter to the history of video games and it's truly a one-of-a-kind experience. $6.99 in the App Store.
What games have you played this week?
Let us know what you have been playing this week in the comments down below or hit me up on Twitter!
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.