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Teaching Physics (Whether Players Know It Or Not): Cut The Rope Is The Logical Successor To Angry Birds!

Puzzle games are exceptionally popular among casual computer game players.  The rise of smartphones has made video games accessible to a much larger audience. Puzzle games like Hexic and Angry Birds have effectively captivated smartphone users and opened entirely new markets up in the video game industry.  But while Angry Birds has remained comparatively static – Rovio has effectively merchandised Angry Birds beyond the popular game, but not released any new expansions for some time – a new game has come to dominate the puzzle game niche.  That game is Cut The Rope.

Cut The Rope is a physics-based puzzle game similar in several ways to Angry Birds, which might be why it so easily took over the same niche.  Developed by Chillingo, Cut The Rope features bright colors and simple animation that makes it ideal for playing on a smartphone or tablet computer, where one does not need the most advanced monitor to get the most out of the game.  When Chillingo released Cut The Rope to the Apple App Store during the fourth quarter of 2010, it sold three million downloads before the end of that year!  Since its initial release, Chillingo has continued to release Cut The Rope for different video game platforms, as well as a new expansion, Cut The Rope: Experiments.

Cut The Rope features a little green alien, Om Nom.  Om Nom loves candy.  Om Nom, however, has no real mobility and as such needs to have his candy delivered right to his mouth.  Each board on Cut The Rope features Om Nom sitting underneath a piece of candy, which is suspended above him by a rope contraption.  The rope device changes with each level and frequently has multiple ropes, pulleys or other attached devices.  You must cut the rope or ropes in order to drop or launch the candy in such a way that it will land in Om Nom’s mouth.  Just as describing Angry Birds does not reveal the full challenge or fun of the game, simply reading the game mechanic for Cut The Rope undersells how fun the game is.

Like most video games, Cut The Rope is not a static game.  As you overcome one obstacle, you advance to a level that includes more obstacles and requires higher levels of consideration to complete.  In Cut The Rope, this takes the form of Om Nom moving to positions around the screen where the effect of gravity means simply cutting the rope will not deliver the candy to the alien.  Instead, one must reason which ropes to cut, in which order, at specific times to feed Om Nom!  This is a challenge that virtually guarantees players will be engaged on their smartphone or tablet computer for hours!

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