The absolute best puzzle games can all be described in a single phrase. “Fling the birds at the pigs," or “feed the monster candy," or in the case of Geared 2 [99¢], “connect the blue gear to the yellow gear." Following on the success of the original Geared [Free], the second installment of the series is everything a great sequel should be.
If you haven’t played the original Geared (and really, there’s no reason not to, especially now that it’s free), I’ll explain how the game works in greater detail. Each level is composed of a set of gears, one yellow gear and one (or more) blue gear(s). Utilizing gears of different shapes and sizes, you must connect the two so everything spins. Neither Geared and Geared 2 have any kind of grid the gears snap to, which allows you to place the gears anywhere you want inside of the game.
The challenge comes from the limited set of gears available for each level, in addition to obstacles in each level such as crossed off areas where gears can’t be placed but the can be dropped in to. While it all might sound fairly easy, it won’t take long until you’re flat out stumped on a level, and are left sitting there desperately trying to figure out how in the world to position the two gears you’re given with the five you have to spin. Thankfully, the Geared games allow you to skip forward a few levels in the event that you’re really stuck.
Geared 2 takes this excellent gameplay formula and expands upon it in every way imaginable. Obviously, the sequel comes with a whole new array of levels– These levels also introduce new gear types that apply additional layers of complexity and depth to the game. For instance, in later levels, there are ghost gears that must first be illuminated by nearby sun gears before they can be utilized, gears that apply different gravitational effects, and more. 60 levels in all are included, with another 20 on the way in a planned update.
But what happens when you finish those 60 levels? Well, that’s where the level editor comes in. Players can create their own levels, utilizing all of the obstacles and gear types available in the game, then submit them online. Similarly, if you’re more interested in other people’s creations than your own, you can download any of the player made levels within the game for free. To prevent the issue that so many games with user-created content have (in that a lot of it is junk), the Geared 2 developers have built their own little approval process where they play through levels first, and assign their own difficulty rating to them– A welcome addition considering many games with similar level sharing systems are clogged with simple “hello world" levels. Currently it looks like there are around 20 great player-made levels online, a number I expect to increase as the game becomes more popular.
We’re told that the entire game engine has been completely rewritten from scratch, allowing for all kinds of new tweaks and additions. Instead of just congratulating you for completing a level, the game now displays your completion time in addition to not only the number of moves you made, but also the distance that your gears were dragged in total. This new game engine not only allows for the different types of gears mentioned previously, but also future gears. In the next update, they’re adding a water gameplay element with gears that create droplets and other gears that float.
The new types of gears are what truly makes Geared 2 a worthy sequel. The difficulty in the original Geared often seemed to stem from pixel-hunting as you nudged your gears around to find the perfect spot for them to spin against the other gears. Geared 2 seems to rely much more on puzzle solving skills than touchscreen accuracy, which is an incredibly welcome change. Also, a cute little hamster has been introduced, oddly adding much needed character to the fairly sterile original.
If you haven’t heard of Geared before, stop whatever you’re doing and download it while it’s free. If you enjoy it, you’re going to have a great time with the sequel. Similarly, if you followed along and vanquished every level in the original, you’re going to have just as much (if not much more) fun playing through Geared 2. It’s even universal for the iPad and comes packed with Retina Display graphics. All in all, the Geared games are just as classic as Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, and really shouldn’t be missed.