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Hands-on with Hundreds, the addictive new iOS game from Canabalt's creators

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The first level of Hundreds teaches you the game's most basic concept. Two grey bubbles sit static on screen. Tap one and it inflates, glowing red as it expands. While tapping, the number at the center of each bubble rapidly counts upward.

The goal: tap and grow floating bubbles until they equal 100. A large counter at the center of an iPad screen shows the current sum of every bubble. That counter is sometimes an encouragement, but sometimes a taunt that lets you know you're oh, so close to that sweet 100.

From that first level, things get more difficult and devilishly addictive. Bubbles move and bounce off each other, some at different velocities; they deflate down to zero when struck by spinning blades; they freeze when touching icy bubbles; and if a bubble collides with any other bubble while in its red inflating state, it's game over. It's harder than it sounds.

Playing through 25 levels of Hundreds at Indiecade showed the game's creators are taking brilliant advantage of the iOS game's simple concepts, layering upon them in creative ways. In some puzzles, a huge bubble with a negative integer will dominate the screen, demanding the player deflate it to reach 100. In other puzzles, bubbles will be connected by tethers, affecting their bouncing behavior and forcing the player to rethink the way bubbles move. There's a wide variety of bubble types, including some that burst into nothingness when tapped and some with pause and play icons that stop and start their bouncing movements completely.

"If a bubble does collide when red, you're dead."

Hundreds is an evolved remake of an already released Flash puzzle game that goes by the same name. The Flash version, created by Greg Wohlwend, is much simpler — as players progress, the game tosses more and more bubbles onscreen at once. The iOS version, coming to iPad and iPhone, builds impressively on that simple foundation.

According to developer Semi Secret Software, whose past games include Canabalt, Wurdle, and Aquaria, the iOS version of Hundreds will add "something akin to a narrative layer." The IndieCade demo occasionally presented screens with text like "A mouse has one snout but a human has ten" and at least one with gibberish, with letters that twitched and swapped.

Hundreds does not currently have an announced release date, but its creators say it is "coming soon" to the iTunes App Store.

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