Who needs birds when you have Gerbil Physics?

Review of Gerbil Physics on XBLIG: Buy
A puzzle game with tons of charm, Gerbil Physics brings some much needed variety to the Xbox 360.

In the same month that some upset fowl declared war on thieving pigs, gerbils prepared themselves for incoming bombs.  Gerbil Physics is a physics based puzzler in which the object is to knock down buildings formed by gerbils.  No one ever asked why these buildings need to be knocked down, or how gerbils evolved to understand modern architecture, but the gerbils appear to be happy afterward.

The game stars off with just allowing a limited number of bombs to take down the gerbil buildings.  There is a red line that represents the maximum height the rubble can be.  As the levels progress, ropes are added to the arsenal as are disintegrator guns which remove a gerbil form existence (oh, the humanity!).  The levels also include flora and fauna which explode upon contact, and item pickups that add to the demolition supplies.

The gerbils themselves come in multiple sizes and shapes.  Small round gerbils will fly far off the slightest touch, while large, square, heavy gerbils may require leverage to budge.  Police gerbils cannot be touched or moved; doing either will fail the level.  This keeps the levels challenging even when holding an infinite supply of bombs.

The music and sounds are cute and charming.  The melody is sung by a playful oboe and the gerbil voice’s are adorable even when they are mocking me for failing a level.  The graphics and art rival that of any mainstream work, and fit together well through out the game.

The puzzles present a mental challenge, and later levels punish careless destruction.  I found myself needing to carefully plan out the final stages, making the most of my demolition supplies while finding ways to use the environment to my advantage.  At the game’s core, it is a puzzle game, and it’s good to see the level design hold the same level of quality as the graphics, sounds, and music.

If I have any complaints it’s that the 24 levels go buy too quickly.  Truth be told, I spent a few hours to complete the game but time felt like it raced by.  There is a sequel, Gerbil Physics 2, which doesn’t have quite as good level design as the first, but does help to fill the sense of loss after completing the game.

Gerbil Physics is a solid Buy.  It is refreshing to see a puzzle game of this quality on a platform dominated by twitch gamers looking for the next score orgy.  Not that there is anything wrong with a score orgy, but it’s nice to take a break from leader boards every now and then.


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