Numulus Brings Cross-Platform Puzzling to Facebook & iOS

Numulus iPhoneWhile puzzle-based games are fairly common in both the mobile and social spaces, those centered around math and numbers are decidedly less so. However, a title by the name of Numulus, from developer Pedro, is looking to take this less traveled path, not only on Facebook but on the various iDevices as well.

Centered around basic arithmetic and visual recognition, Numulus could prove enjoyable for the right audience, especially with the addition of a less common math-puzzle element. However, this same puzzle can cause frustration during play due to poor usability design.

The idea behind Numulus is to answer as many math “questions” correctly as possible in a finite amount of time. These questions are not along the lines of “2+2.” Each number in the puzzle is instead part of a cloud, which contains four sets of numbers, each with a different color, and of three varying sizes (small, medium, and large). As such, the questions will be something like “medium green + medium blue.”

In order to get the answer right, players must recognize the correct color and size quickly and click the screen (tap it for iDevice versions) to bring up a simple number pad and input the sum. Obviously, the main goal is to score the highest score possible, which is simply the number of questions one gets right. In order to boost this score, players can also earn time bonuses by answering a question within a sort of sub-timer. What this means is that when a question pops up, it must be answered before the overall level timer reaches a white marker. This marker will change its position with every question.

Numulus Cloud FacebookIt’s all really quite simple and is easily playable in just a few minutes, and thus could be potentially fun for fans of math based games. Of course, the key word is “potentially”, as Numulus comes with some very frustrating usability issues around size recognition. Even if the player knows the right answer mathematically, more often than not Numulus will reject it, because many of the “medium” and “large” numbers, depending on the shape of those numbers, look extremely similar size-wise.

Answers FacebookThe sizing problem leads into yet another usability issue. The game relies on color recognition with red, green, yellow, and blue. Unfortunately, there appears to be no color-blind mode, and with the very common red-green colorblindness… well, let’s just say those players won’t be doing too well.

As for social features, the game does have a global leaderboard for each of the four levels (although the difference between levels feels negligible and only two are available for the Facebook and free iOS versions). Additionally, players can challenge friends with the classic “beat my high score” type of mechanic on Facebook and accomplish achievements via Plus+ on their iDevices. Moreover, Pedro advertises that the various versions of the game are all cross-platform, and regardless of the rendition, accomplishments can all be shared via both Twitter and Facebook.

As an idea, Numulus is decent. Especially for the iOS, the game looks very clean and visually polished (less so with the Facebook version — there’s just too much empty space) with some nice calming sounds, conducive to puzzle solving. However, the frustration created by either bugs or poor usability – though definitely usability in terms of the lack of a colorblind mode – sucks all the potential enjoyment out of the game. The good news is that the rest of the game, and the idea behind it, is not half bad, so here’s hoping some fixes and improvements are on the way.