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Rovio puzzler Amazing Alex keeps you coming back for more

A new game from the makers of Angry Birds hit the app stores for both iOS and Android recently and has rocketed up to the top of the paid apps lists.

Amazing Alex
There are a lot of moving parts in each level and your job is to figure out the best way to gather up all 3 stars.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Amazing Alex (99 cents) for iPhone or Android is a physics game where you're challenged to create chain reactions with objects to complete objectives. Our hero, Amazing Alex, is a kid who's stuck cleaning his room and tries to get creative with organizing his belongings by building Rube Goldburg-like devices.

For each level you'll go through two phases: the building phase, where you'll set up your objects, and the execution phase, where you'll see if your arrangement of objects helps you collect all the stars for the level. Like in Angry Birds, you'll want to try to get all three stars for every level for a perfect score. The game is also clever in how you move through chapters; at the end of the first chapter, for example, a comic shows that Alex gets in trouble with his mother for all the ruckus in his room, so she sends him outside where he sets up more complex chain reactions.

There are 35 interactive objects to work with and part of the fun is figuring out the best way to complete a level. In the early stages, you'll need to simply direct soccer and tennis balls into a hamper using platforms and other objects. But later in the game you'll use balloons that rise and pop, pipes that direct balls in different directions, and even a mechanical arm that punches objects when properly triggered. What's great about the game is there is more than one way to complete every level, so each challenge is like an empty canvas where you'll experiment with objects available to see if your final design works.

Amazing Alex
When creating levels, you can use several of each object (note the numbers at the bottom) to make your challenge. Hit the play button (upper right) to see what happens. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Amazing Alex comes with over 100 levels to experiment with, but you can also create your own levels and share them with friends. With tons of objects, platforms, and contraptions available, you have virtually unlimited options from which to create the ultimate challenge. The game also lets your friends share levels with you so you can see how they completed them, and with the multiple ways to complete levels, sometimes you'll be very surprised.

Overall Rovio's new Amazing Alex is a great time-waster, but I'm not sure it will have the longevity of Angry Birds. Still, if you like puzzle games that involve physics, Amazing Alex allows a lot of flexibility with your solutions as you arrange objects to create Rube Goldberg devices.