Puzzling with the Kids: Blast-A-Way

There aren’t many games featuring bombs that make you want to say “That’s adorable!” Blast-A-Way from Illusion Labs definitely manages this feat. In this cheerful kid-friendly game for the iPad, you control a number of adult “Boxies” — basically boxes with legs — and are tasked with rounding up the little ones, who have gotten lost and need some rescuing.

Each level is essentially an abstract maze, and to navigate the maze you will need several kinds of bombs. You’ve got your basic blow-things-to-smithereens bomb — useful for rescuing little Boxies who have become embedded in a wall, or simply to make a path so you can reach the finish line. There are teleporters, which will blip you over to a different part of the maze, as long as the teleport bomb matches the color it lands on. Rebuilders are anti-bombs: They put back together the parts of the maze you previously blew up.

Add to this further complications: Sheets of colored glass will change the color of your bombs. Portals will send your bombs zipping to the other side of the maze. And some levels will require two Boxies to work together to rescue all the little ones.

The puzzles stay at the softball level for at least half of the game’s 80 levels — a smart kid will have no trouble helping to solve them, or pushing you aside and doing it herself. After the halfway mark, you and your child may well need to think things over for a while, and you might even have to leave a Boxie or two unrescued, the poor little things.

Blast-A-Way is loaded with charm. The levels are richly textured — you’ll have just gotten used to the beauty of the wooden-block mazes, when suddenly you’re on to new levels done up in a sleek metal finish, or upholstered in the soft fabric of a kiddie rumpus room. My daughter says at least once during our play sessions, “I love this music!” And then there are the adorable little Boxies themselves, trying to get your attention with a high-pitched “Over here!” and “Miiister!” Blast-A-Way raises the bar on high-polish puzzling on the iPad.

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