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Liquid physics games for iOS

Jason Parker loves puzzle games and this week's collection of apps is all about mind-bending challenges that use liquid physics.


I often write about action games in my collections, and it's no secret I'm a fan of the racing-game genre as well. But another genre I like to play while on my commute is mind-twisting puzzle games. A new game was released a few days ago that has jumped to the top of the charts at iTunes App Store and it has all the bells and whistles to remain a hit.

Though puzzle games come in a lot of different forms, one of my favorite types is those that use realistic physics. Some of the best I have come across use liquid physics and require you to experiment in order to solve each puzzle.

This week's are all games that use liquid physics. The first presents a mix of Angry Birds-like gameplay and gooey candied liquids as you attempt to save the cute marshmallow heroes. The second challenges you to divert water so a charming alligator can take a bath. The third is a sequel that has you using elements in all their forms to help a secret agent solve puzzles.

Coco Loco
When you set off a bomb in gooey candy gelatin, what results is a delicious mess. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Coco Loco (99 cents) is an excellent puzzle game (for both iPhone and iPad) that mixes elements reminiscent of hit iOS games Angry Birds with liquid physics to make a fun game that's visually stunning while offering unique challenges.

In this game, you won't be flinging birds, but instead you take control of a team of marshmallows (Marshies). The surreal premise of Coco Loco has you freeing marshmallows from the clutches of evil chocolate guardians, often by using hot cocoa to wash captured marshmallows to safety. The liquid physics play a huge role as you'll often knock something loose that sends liquid (cocoa) through the level. There are also gel-like obstacles where you'll need to fire an exploding marshmallow in and then set it off to clear it out in an explosion of bright pink liquid.

That's where Coco Loco really shines, in the visuals. There are four worlds currently, each with its own theme, for a total of 90 levels to conquer -- all of them extremely colorful with high-res graphics. Like the other games in this genre, being efficient pays off, giving you three stars if you can finish in the fewest shots.

If you want a really unique take on this slingshot puzzle genre with beautiful visuals and precision liquid physics, I can't recommend this game enough. This well-polished and silly game adds something more to the genre and is a great fit for any Angry Birds or puzzle-gaming fan.

Where's My Water?
You'll need to clear a path for the water to wend its way through to Swampy's bathtub. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Where's My Water? (99 cents) is a popular and charming physics puzzler, in which you funnel clean water to the bathtub of a fastidious little alligator named Swampy. The game quickly rose to the top of the App Store after its release because of its graphics, liquid physics, and challenging puzzle gameplay.

Where's My Water? certainly ranks among the better arcade puzzlers, sharing some similarities (fast-paced levels, an intuitive interface, and a winningly cartoony protagonist) but with a central schtick that's mostly all its own: you dig paths through dirt, creating channels for liquid to flow from one place to another. Ideally, you'll get enough clean water into a pipe to fill Swampy's tub, but along the way you have to contend with various obstacles, including acid (which can combine with your water), algae (which acid will eat, or which will grow in contact with water), and all sorts of water-activated switches and elements. With some planning, you're also hoping to float between one and three rubber duckies along the way. Levels aren't too tough, at least at first, but getting all three duckies can take some forethought and tricky multitouch timing. The interface isn't always perfect (an antiquated scroll bar can be frustrating at times, and digging isn't too precise), but overall Where's My Water? is slick, satisfying, and silly -- in a good way.

Where's My Water? is a worthwhile download for fans of cute physics puzzlers, and with several updates to the game since the time of launch, it now offers more than 350 levels, compared with 100 at release time.

Where's My Perry?
In this level, the steam rises to the ice, which creates water that then washes down to the bottom. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Where's My Perry? (99 cents) from Disney is the spiritual sequel to Where's My Water?, and adds enough new elements to make it an excellent puzzler in its own right.

Based on the Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb" series, Where's My Perry? lets you play as another character from the series, Perry the Platypus (also known as Agent P). In each of the more than 80 puzzles across four chapters, you'll be challenged to cut through dirt with your finger to divert liquids and steam to activate various switches and ultimately to send Agent P on to the next level. You'll also want to collect the three garden gnomes on every level by diverting water over them on the path to the goal.

The gameplay is a lot like Where's My Water? in look and feel, but Where's My Perry? adds several new variables that make it worthy of checking out. Water can come in all its forms in this game, with levels that use ice, water, and steam, requiring you to come up with new strategies for each. To switch between the different states of water you will use what the game calls Crazy-inators. The Heat-inator is a beam of energy that can heat up ice to make water, and then heat up water to make steam. The Cool-inator (clearly) does the opposite, and figuring out how to best use these beams is part of the fun of completing each level.

There are also bonus levels in Where's My Perry?, but you'll have to perfect your skills because you need to capture all three gnomes and a hidden item on each level to move to the bonus levels. The game, as is, is fun and challenging on its own, but these added bonus levels are what give this game great replayability.

Where's My Perry? is an excellent liquid-physics puzzle game that will appeal to both newcomers and fans of Where's My Water? If you like puzzle games with realistic physics paired with cute characters, you will love this game.