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Game Day: Bulb Boy

Bulb Boy is a bizarre point-and-tap puzzle adventure on iOS from Kraków, Poland-based Bulbware that draws inspiration from games like Machinarium. As the name suggests, the story centers around a boy who is a lightbulb. Bulb Boy appears to be going about his business, living a quiet life with his grandfather and bulb-dog in their bulb-house, until strange things suddenly start to happen. Bulb Boy's world is beset with monsters and it's up to you, as Bulb Boy, to defeat them by collecting a series of items that help you solve puzzles.

Everything in the game is black and green like an old CRT monitor. The animation has a distinctly retro feel too. When I started Bulb Boy I immediately felt like I had stepped into a demented version of an old cartoon from the 1930s.

The mechanics are straight-forward. You explore each scene by tapping the screen. Bulb Boy moves to where you tap and examines any items in the area. The items you collect help you solve the puzzles and move on to the next stage. In addition, Bulb Boy can take off his head to illuminate dark areas and help solve puzzles. As the game progresses it continually introduces new challenges that keep the game fresh.

Bulb Boy, which has won more awards than I can list here, is as creepy and weird as it sounds. Originally released for PCs on Steam, the game translates well to iOS's touch interface. I played on my iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro and greatly preferred the experience on the iPad, where the artwork and soundtrack could really shine.

Bulb Boy is as much about exploring and enjoying its strange world as it is about the puzzles. The lead character is so charming that I very quickly found myself wanting to help him out of all the tight spots he finds himself in, which makes for an absorbing game. For the most part, the puzzles are challenging without being too hard, but if you do get stuck, Bulb Boy provides hints in the form of pictographic thought-bubbles that appear above Bulb Boy's head. There are also walk-throughs online.

Bulb Boy is available on the App Store for $2.99 and, although I have not tried it, it's worth noting that Bulb Boy is also available on the Mac for $9.99.

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