During an interview with Where's My Water? creator Tim FitzRandolph last week, I found myself excited over the new direction he was taking with the first numbered sequel in the wildly popular series. Then he said the words "simple energy mechanic," and my heart sank.

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At first the free-to-play sequel FitzRandolph laid out for me sounded a lot like the recently-released Plants Vs. Zombies 2. Instead of a series of disconnected levels, Where's My Water? 2 gives players a sort of overworld map. Once a level is beaten, additional challenges are unlocked, tasking players with completing different goals on the same playfield. The in-app purchases consist largely of optional power-ups & hints — the whole trò chơi can be played without paying anything.

"We all jumped on Plants Vs. Zombies 2 as soon as it came out," said FitzRandolph after I pointed out the similarities between the two big-name thiết bị di động sequels. "It was kind of weird how many similar conclusions they had come to about how lớn re-frame their game, what things you could add."


The new trò chơi also taps into the social spirit of games lượt thích Candy Crush Saga, showing players where their Facebook friends are on the map and how well they've fared on a particular màn chơi versus their compatriots. It's a sort of passive competitive aspect that I find quite pleasing.


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FitzRandolph laid out the framework of what sounded like an exciting extension of the popular brand. All three "playable" characters — Swampy, Allie & Cranky — mingle in each mix of levels rather than being cordoned off, building the character of this strange, underground world. "Duck Rush" levels, in which the screen scrolls and the player has to lớn keep digging the water down the screen, địa chỉ a welcome bit of urgency lớn an otherwise thoughtful series.

Where's My Water? 2 sounded lượt thích an amazing game that I couldn't wait lớn play. Thank's to lớn the worst possible feature in a free-to-play game, waiting is exactly what I have khổng lồ do.

Limiting play time via an arbitrary energy meter is an incredibly player-unfriendly trò chơi mechanic. It's lượt thích being punished for playing. The better the game, the more frustrating the energy mechanic becomes. Applied khổng lồ the simple brilliance of a Where's My Water? game, the frustration burns hot và bright.

It really doesn't work with the game structure. Where's My Water? 2 is a puzzle trò chơi with a heavy trial-and-error element — part of the joy of the previous games was attempting levels over and over again, trying to collect all of the ducks or finding more efficient means of solving H2o issues. When every attempt brings players closer lớn a forced stopping point, the game doesn't work.

There is some relief from the energy issue. Unlocking a new set of puzzles with reward players with an energy refills, as will the initial connection to Facebook. Once connected, players will be able to lớn gift their friends with more energy, so a gregarious social networker might never have to worry about energy much at all.

But fans of the series who just want to immerse themselves in puzzle-after-puzzle until sated will find their progress blocked. Unlike Plants Vs. Zombies 2, which rewards the hardcore with unlimited access, here the hardcore are penalized for their passion.

I can't imagine how the simple energy mechanic fits with his overall vision for this sequel.

"I think the main thing for us, as we went through every decision of 'should we showroom something or not' or 'should we change something or not' was continuing to lớn be super clear with ourselves about what we think is fun about our game, and making sure that anything we introduced khổng lồ the game augmented that and was in concert with that. Our game is about looking at a puzzle, figuring it out, solving it and then seeing what's next. Everything we've added is in line with that."

Where's My Water? 2 is available now on iOS, with versions coming lớn Windows Phone, Windows 8, và the Amazon phầm mềm Store later today.