Little Wheel Game

Little Wheel – A friendly robot puzzler with light jazz accompaniment.

I’ve found the case to be that the majority of robot games available to play on the internet are somewhat limited in their scope. That is to say that most of them require the input of large amounts of time and effort in order to even begin to see the benefit of choosing to give up your valuable time to play them in the first place. Their format is usually so annoyingly predictable it can sometimes make you wonder why people choose to bother; you are repeatedly instructed to build, edit, perfect, fix, clean, monitor, progress and altogether think way too much about your actions, when all you really want to do is become gently and nonchalantly immersed in some easy-to-follow, low-input (yet high-reward) fun. I discovered ‘Little Wheel’ by Fast Games to be the cure for common robot game, and the musical accompaniment of lightly-swinging 1960’s TV detective music is pretty much the deal-breaker.

Meet ‘Little Wheel’, a clumsy robot specimen that is lucky enough to have been resurrected by a freak lightning strike a full ten thousand earth years following an accidental city-wide blackout. Incidentally, said power failure was caused by another inept autonomous robotic creation’s inability to perform his job without toppling with minimal grace over the single power cable which feeds the entire robotic population; an hilarious mixture of preventable recklessness and wildly irresponsible power-supply design which might as well have been a giant red button decorated with a ‘Do not push’ warning above it. Consequentially, this basic failure in logistics leads to hilarious consequences and concludes the introduction with the player being in full control of the only ‘living’ robot in existence; it would be frankly impolite not to save the day given your unique situation.

‘Little wheel’ is primarily a point-and-click puzzler game which requires only the most basic of thought from the user and some resulting clicking on various objects relevant to your progression in the game. The game is broken down into small challenges which mainly consist of fairly simple logical puzzles which are usually overcome by using a little bit of mild observation to assess your entirely mechanical surroundings. Progressing through the game therefore feels like an incredibly basic version of The Crystal Maze in silhouette and set to mild swing music, only without the eccentric presenters and the decade-defining 90’s facial hair and ‘should have gone to Specsavers’ glasses.

Guiding the hopeful saviour of the robotic race through the game is easy since there are no directional controls as such; instead, using the power eye movement and looking slightly to your left and right, you should able to discern between the irrelevant background scenery and the functional sections of interactive usefulness, if for no other reason than it is usually unmistakably highlighted by the game with the use of a pulsating white circle in which you click. It seems almost upsetting that a number of online walkthroughs exist for the game, with the more unsettling truth being that these walkthroughs exist because people required them to complete the game in the first place. Considering its simplicity, it makes you wonder about the general competency of the average gamer (with me being only barely-competent as it stands).

You guide the little robot of ineptitude through the metallic mysteriousness of a once-bustling robot city, encountering several challenges including fuelling and driving of a train, operation of a crane, activation of some helpful flying robots and the fixing of a section of railway line that is inconveniently unusable for its intended purpose when you first approach it. I particularly enjoyed the twisted, sooty blackness of both the foreground and background artwork which creates a lifeless, industrial feeling sprinkled with an artificial coldness that only robots vacant of their power and intended function can create. The atmosphere is kept just sort of sinister with the playful inelegance of the robot main character and the muted trumpet soaring playfully over the jazz music below, creating a sense of slightly comedic, tongue-in-cheek mystery.

After making your way through the various puzzles with difficulty varying from plainly obvious to mildly taxing, you find yourself at the source of the power outage and must void the warranty of the machinery by playing around with it yourself, arranging lever-arms and wires in such a manner that guides the plug that was so easily pulled out ten thousand years earlier back into its socket. While the whole situation could have been avoided through better building design and the simple consulting of a competent electrician, I’m quite glad that a game was created in which the scenario took place and that I had the opportunity to play my way through the action; there are after all very few games out there of such dark yet incredibly playful eccentricity.

In all, I feel that the game’s main strength is also its greatest weakness; playing the game is pleasantly simple but to such an extent that it can be completed in roughly seven minutes. I enjoy being able to pick up a game and play it with such ease but at its conclusion I felt that it didn’t last long enough. The shadowy artwork is one of the defining features of the game, as is the brooding jazz music which makes you feel as if you are panning across a crime-filled, black and white 1930’s New York neighbourhood. I would only hope potential players aren’t put off by the relative ease of the game and that they give ‘Little Wheel’ a chance; he’s no Wall-E but he’s trying his best, after all, no one can compete with his big googly robot eyes and award-nominated soundtrack.