By now, you are probably already aware that at Geeks With Juniors, we enjoy exploring math apps and puzzles. Really, it was only a matter of time until we review an app that combines both. Today, I'm going to introduce you to Symmetry Shuffle, a cleverly simple but mind-bending math puzzler that is sure to get your brows in a twist.
Slide, flip and turn with Symmetry Shuffle
Symmetry Shuffle is a math puzzle game that invites the player to arrange a number of objects, one at a time, across a symmetrically-tiled board. The only catch is, you have to make sure that each object match a given target image on the grid. This premise sounds simple at first, but you soon realize that strategy is needed to complete the game. As the target images are arranged in random orientations, you may need to use slides (translations), flips (reflections) or turns (rotations) to perfectly align the objects on the board. When all the target images are matched, the game is completed and you can move on to the next puzzle.
The game comes in two flavors, Solve and Race. In the former game mode, you attempt to solve puzzles in the least amount of time, using the fewest possible moves. To start the game, you first select the type of object that you would like to place on the board (selections include sneakers, cows, umbrellas, tangram-style figurines, butterfly wings and beetles), the size of the board and the difficulty level, which comes in two choices: easy or hard. The difference between easy and hard is that in the latter, going over a "solved tile" will reset it and cost you a move, so you must carefully plan how you go across the board.
Once you tap on the big start button, the game will generate a random puzzle and the timer will begin to tick. It is interesting to note that in the Solve mode, the game does not show you the minimum number of moves that you can make to complete a puzzle nor does it keep a record of your game duration. So, you are basically competing against yourself to break your own record.
If you want to challenge yourself more, feel free to venture into Race mode, where you pit against time to solve as many puzzles as possible. As you would expect, the puzzles start small and easy, but progress in complexity and challenge as you go on. Points are scored as you complete each puzzle, and a scoreboard keeps tally of your top 10 attempts.
What parents need to know
Symmetry Shuffle is a wonderful app to help juniors sharpen their spatial reasoning and problem solving skills through simple yet brain-teasing puzzles. By trying to match objects with target images, your juniors can learn to predict the outcome of sliding, turning or flipping a two-dimensional object and recognize line and rotational symmetry.
It should be noted that the developer intended the app to be a recreational game, so it does not teach concepts, merely provides a way to practice them. Thus, if your juniors have not yet learned about geometry concepts at school, I would advise you to accompany them as they play. You can also check out the Instructions menu to help you get started.
Content-wise, the app randomly generates puzzles as you play, so it offers virtually unlimited practice. Based on my experience in using the app, the puzzles are quite varied in difficulty, but none are so frustrating to make you want to quit playing.
The game controls may need extra time to get used to, but they are not so complicated. Besides tapping and sliding to move an object on the board, you can also double tap to do a flip and swipe to do a rotation. The app is quite minimalist, with very few settings to tweak.
The app would make terrific companion to juniors aged 8 and up, but I have no doubt that many parents would find it enjoyable as well.
What I liked about the app
I am nowhere close to being called a puzzle geek like Eric, but I really enjoyed Symmetry Shuffle. In fact, I had so much fun that I couldn't put it down the first few hours I tried it. And even after then, I would occasionally snuck in a few minutes to play whenever I caught a break - that is how addictive this game is.
What I really liked about the app is that it cleverly conceals learning in a fun and challenging puzzle. Spatial reasoning is not my strongest point, but this app made it easy to practice and improve my skills.
I also applaud the developer for creating puzzles that are difficult enough to get you racking your brains but still playable if you think hard enough. Like many great games, the app also offers flexibility through two different game modes. While I get a kick out of surpassing my own high score in Race mode, the Solve mode is great for winding down after a tiring day. But it doesn't mean the Solve mode is any less thrilling - try setting the difficulty level to hard if you don't believe me.
Last but not least, I really appreciate the app's simple and clean design. There are no complicated settings, so players only need to focus on the game. In addition, the use of vibrant colors, paper textures and lovely hand-drawn style artwork gives the app a relaxing yet playful vibe that just draws you in to play.
Symmetry Shuffle is a brilliant educational app that mixes fun and learning in a challenging math puzzler game. While the app is intended to help juniors practice geometry concepts, the complexity and challenge that it offers will easily appeal to puzzle geeks. If you are looking for an app that is fun, educative and can cater to both juniors and adults - this is it.
Symmetry Shuffle is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad