The Littlest Robo: Little Wheel

By Alec Meer on June 12th, 2009 at 1:37 pm.

This = proper lovely. It’s a very short, incredibly charming browser-based puzzle game, starring that old indie staple, a cute robot. Familiar elements perhaps, but with a gorgeous, genuinely delightful execution. This is exactly the kind of game that should be played on a Friday lunchtime, leaving you with a warm and fuzzy feeling all weekend.

It’s made by Slovakian outfit OneClickDog, whose previous game, Kutuke, I shall eagerly check out next week. Where Little Wheel departs from the vast majority of browser-based puzzles games is:

a) it’s more or less a straight line with zero room for confusion, but maximum room for the charming joy of pressing buttons and watching things happen. This is, trust me, more than enough.

b) its remarkable art and music style, which may well owe a great debt to World of Goo, but by electing to use only silhouettes, really nails that living cartoon aesthetic.

I don’t want to say too much because I suspect I only dilute what’s a perfectly self-contained experience by doing so – so, go play.

Thanks to Several Noble Readers for mailing us about this.

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70 Comments »

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  1. bansama says:

    its remarkable art and music style, which may well owe a great debt to World of Goo

    Most certainly so. The second I saw the image for this post I thought of 2DBoy.

  2. Dan says:

    Played this the other day, very nice game. The idea of using hotspot icons is a welcome one. The animation is really top notch too.

    I’m really not a big fan of the fastgames links being plastered all over the place though, sort of detracts from the experience a bit.

  3. bansama says:

    I’m really not a big fan of the fastgames links being plastered all over the place though, sort of detracts from the experience a bit.

    Exactly what I thought too having just played it. I’m also not a fan of the music but other than those things, the game was fairly fun. A little too short given the 20 mins it took to actually load up though. But that was probably just their servers getting strained or something.

  4. LewieP says:

    Played it earlier in the week, and loved it. More please.

  5. c-Row says:

    Charming! This left me with a smile and the good feeling that maybe I am not too dumb for the puzzles some of today’s games challenge me to (I am looking at YOU, Braid).

  6. Ian says:

    I think that’s the cheeriest little game posted on here since Sunny Day. I feel all warm inside my cold, stony heart.

  7. Riotpoll says:

    That was a nice little game.

  8. Theory says:

    Screw you guys, I’m going to be mean about it. The art is nice but it practically plays itself: there’s next to nothing to do!

  9. mihor_fego says:

    These guys that made it really deserve a chance to work on something with a proper budget! Think of this game with a fully developed story/world, multiple tiny robot characters between levels and interaction with more on-screen elements without showing hotspots, leaving space for multi-screen complex puzzles.

    This was a tiny sweet taste, but it’s there to remind what’s the exciting aspect of small developers: they love their work and it shows. It’s true that this owes to WoG aesthetics, but the concept of cutesy cartoony 2d is really as old as videogames.

    I’d gladly pay 20$ for a fully developed version of this, as I did for WoG and Kudos2. The satisfaction I got from playing these two games and supporting their creators is many times more than many big titles. And it feels good paying for such games instead of spending the same amount for a game that you know the people that put their creativity in it won’t get but a tiny fraction of a big studio’s earnings.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    What a darling little romp.

    Yeah, that’s right, I said “romp”.

  11. Youatemycheeto says:

    Not to be all correcty, but my last girlfriend was from Slovakia and the adjective most prefer is “Slovak” as opposed to “Slovakian.” Just fyi. :-D

  12. The Hammer says:

    I liked this! I thought it was a bit too much like World of Goo in its art style to be totally fresh, but the music was cheerful, and some of the animations were well worth solving the puzzles for. I very much liked the train. Poor train. :(

  13. The Hammer says:

    Actually, did that take a long time to load in for anybody else? I had to wait about three minutes for it. I’m presuming it was just a bad connection.

  14. Pags says:

    Lovely, very much Samorost-esque too. Has gotten me wanting Machinarium a little more now, although hopefully that game won’t be quite as simple as this one.

  15. Pags says:

    Oh and Hammer, I had to wait a long time too.

  16. Stuk says:

    Took quite a while to load for me as well.

    I really liked the animation, it has a nice weighty feel to it. Music was lovely as well. Not much of a game, although I enjoyed playing it, more like, as Meat Circus said, a “romp”.

  17. Wallace says:

    Those are some sick silhouettes.

  18. teo says:

    Played it to the crane
    Might play more later, it was quite nice

  19. Lack_26 says:

    @Drunky,

    No, it wasn’t just you. It took me about that long to load.

  20. Schmung says:

    The art and animation were splendid. Not a vast amount of game there, but a lovely way to spend five or so minutes as you toddle through it grinning to yourself.

  21. DSX says:

    Haven’t tried yet, but the screens seem like almost a direct art-style copy of World of Goo.. not that it’s a bad thing.

  22. Brother None says:

    Very nice, if indeed also very easy. But the style is hypnotizing, it’s got so much oodles of it, it barely needs gameplay.

  23. The Hammer says:

    @Lack_26: Brrr. Old name, man. Old name.

    (Glad to see it wasn’t just me with the long loading!)

  24. Diziet Sma says:

    Saw this linked on offworld yesterday and played it through last night. Short and utterly charming, well worth a few minutes.

  25. The Innocent says:

    Played it yesterday, and I must say that I actually enjoyed having the answers to the puzzles right there in front of me, leaving all the time to just enjoy the scenery. Most of the time I play a browser puzzle game, I eventually load up a walkthrough anyway, so this was just great fun. I laughed a little that there was a “walkthrough” link in the top right corner, when the game essentially highlights the answers to the puzzles already.

  26. Bret says:

    Heh.

    Fun, nice looking, give hints, even has a link to a walkthrough if you get stuck.

    The very last bit, I am shamed to say, still took me longer than it should.

  27. Colin says:

    played this yesterday, thought about emailing the RPS hivemind about it but looks like someone beat me to it. I wasn’t sure what to think – it really wasn’t that fun, just pretty. Am I allowed to like that? Should I? TELL ME WHAT TO THINK

  28. jsutcliffe says:

    My wife showed this to me the other day, and I thought it was swell. The presentation is excellent, even though there’s not much to the actual game. The puzzle tip system made it all far too easy, reminding me a bit of the old Don Bluth games where you’re there for the animation not the game.

    I guess it felt like a portfolio piece more than a full-fledged game.

  29. Jon says:

    An excellent end to the week – played this in the last 20 minutes of Friday afternoon at work, and I’m now suitably relaxed for the pub.

    I think it could have done with not highlighting the things you need to interact with though, which would have given it a little more life.

  30. Jon says:

    Oh, and I agree with people’s loading woes. Even on work’s 100Mbps connection it took a few minutes.

  31. abhishek says:

    Pretty cute game :)

  32. MrBejeebus says:

    fun to play but i was dismayed when i suddenly reached the end, i thought it might at least last a bit longer..

  33. Zyrxil says:

    Loved it. Short, simple beautiful. The Hotspotting was great. Adventure-game pixel hunting is crap anyway; Interactive objects should always be obviously, so in a world of silhouettes it’s quite an elegant solution.

  34. greenb says:

    How is this functionally different from the much-hated Ludo?

  35. l1ddl3monkey says:

    JAZZ! I liked the game.

  36. Gravey says:

    @greenb: It won’t make you want to have sex?

  37. JohnArr says:

    Great find. Kinda wanted all the other robots to just continue without acknowledging your efforts, but that might be overly cynical :P

  38. Pags says:

    @greenb: well, there’s no element of luck to the game. Which basically means it is completely different from Ludo. Is that different enough for you?

  39. Bret says:

    Also it has adorable robots.

    Lovable robots are always better than Ludo.

  40. psyk says:

    Didn’t load instantly must write comment on how slow it was RAWR

  41. a says:

    But this is like ludo with a crap jazz tune.

  42. drewski says:

    I haven’t even played World of Goo and I still got the art link.

    I don’t get why the robots are excited when you finish the game, it’s not like they’d *know*.

  43. psyk says:

    Cant seem to edit no more but the game itself isnt bad nice to look at and the animations were nice would of liked it if the hotspots were removed but thats just me.

  44. Pags says:

    @a: not sure where you’re getting the Ludo comparison from. If it were like Ludo you’d just sit pressing the same hotspot for 20 minutes hoping eventually an invisible dice roll will let you progress to the next bit whereas instead you have to solve puzzles by clicking things in order. No luck, just very very elemetary puzzle solving.

  45. a says:

    The point is there’s barely any game in there. There are only 4 pr 5 puzzles that have any kind of choice.

  46. Linfosoma says:

    Very enjoyable, thanks for the link!

  47. Wulf says:

    This…

    This is stylish, and it’s clever. It’s a heart-warming and endearing self-contained storyline that’s short enough for anyone to be able to enjoy. It’s exposing people to a rather different kind of story-telling and environment, something perhaps even a little bit joyously alien, and… well, it’s just beautiful.

    I’m also glad that it’s a natural tale, and one that doesn’t rely on chiefly structured and artificial instances of tragedy to try and jerk some kind of emotional response out of the audience. I’ve seen that used so many times in books and movies, and never well, it’s getting a little old. Sorry JohnArr.

    The feeling of this actually reminds me of Discworld, if that makes any sense, because it’s genuinely charming, and it’s a story that’s a celebration of life, determination, and truly selfless acts.

    As a game, it seems to be a natural evolution of Samorost, it’s the same kind of thing but it had more of a point to it, it was better executed, more focused, and it was a story.

    And the background music was great, it was slightly perky but the jazz portrayed a slight feeling of sadness and loneliness, which was a fantastic undertone for the adventure, as it conveyed the feelings of our adorable little robot. All alone, but he knew how to fix that problem, and had hope that he could do it.

    The English subtitles for the few parts where they exist are slightly shaky and could use a minor rewrite, but I can’t dock it down points for that. And the one Flashgames advertisement was a bit out of place too, but if that’s all I can find wrong with it, well…

    10/10! If you hadn’t figured that out already.

    In fact, I enjoyed it so much I played it twice, and then I downloaded it just in case it ever disappeared, because there are a few little flash games of the ilk that I’d never want to drop off the Earth.

    http://fastgames.com/flash4/littlewheel.swf – if anyone’s interested, I tested it offline too just to make sure it doesn’t fetch anything from the server in order to run.

    What I’d like to see is a series of self-contained mini-adventures like this, perhaps 10 or 20, starring adventures of the little robot. Perhaps now that he’s gained a sense of individuality, he wants to learn more about the World around him, and goes on a few jaunts of exploration and discovery.

    I would seriously pay for this if they didn’t get greedy and overcharge for it, I bought Samorost 2 after all, and this would be much of the same. There’s definitely a future for games of this medium… it feels like Zeno Clash, someone just wanted to tell a silly little story, the digital age equivalent of an old man telling a story to a bunch of kids around the fireplace, and it works very well.

    TL;DR: MOAR PLZ. HAVE MONEY.

  48. MarkN says:

    Good Night Robots.

  49. Linfosoma says:

    Thanks for the link Wulf!

  50. Wulf says:

    Oh and…

    @drewski

    A basic understanding of computers and some observation should give you all the information to figure that out.

    First of all, let’s posit that they had a backup generator, but that generator wasn’t functioning properly, I say this because when our hero gets to the generator, one guard is functioning, along with the robotic arm in the generator room, but not the generator’s maintenance robot.

    Given the guard outside, that wouldn’t seem an unreasonable conclusion, it’s also possible that the backup generator was powering the shared consciousness of the machines, and that the drones were just a physical externalisation of that, each inhabiting the body they chose to.

    What I’m getting at is that they all existed within a mainframe somewhere, and the actual robots were just terminals, without power the terminals couldn’t move but that didn’t mean that they’d all just died, simply that they couldn’t use their bodies, which must’ve been frustrating.

    Then suddenly one of them finds that his body is accessible and he goes on a romp to restore power, and suddenly all those minds can use their robotic bodies again. Rejoice!

    Is the idea of a mainframe a bit too much for you? How about this, the backup generator was powering a diagnostics system that had an atomic clock, and it’s still very likely that all the machines are networked, so upon revival they all get an update from that system and it’s simple for them to figure out what’s happened, and they feel elated.

    These are just two possibilities given by the hints we’re given, and two rather likely possibilities, it seems silly to assume that a civilisation of robotic entities would be limited by human restraints.