By Virginia Heffernan
Imagine yourself expanding—broadening your horizons, dilating on a subject, swelling with pride. Dwell on that sensation a moment. Feel your neurons inflate. Next imagine navigating a crowd in that expansive state, flinching to keep from touching anyone else.
Then conjure the feeling of trying to get someone alone—away from the throngs, where you can talk to him. Next think about doing all this while trying to avoid the blades of a low ceiling fan.
These cognitive fragments and half-narrative flows and other pieces—far stranger—are activated by "Hundreds," a chic, new iOS puzzle from Semi Secret Software.
I’d say the game is dreamy, if your dreams are immaculately clean, defined by grayscale geometry and ambient techno music. (Mine aren’t.) I will say that, no matter what part of your subconscious this cerebral game caresses, the chill-erotic music of Loscil from Kranky music is one of its loveliest components.
Shifting mental seas define the experience of "Hundreds." The gameplay seems to take place in amniotic fluid. Its palate is neonatal: black, white and red. You make your way through it using limbic cues you might not know you have in your brain. “If they touch when red then you are dead,” flatly states a surreal sign encountered partway through the game’s earliest levels, a couplet Alice might have stumbled on in Wonderland. That’s really the only guideline you get as to how "Hundreds" is played. In the manner of the most sophisticated new mobile games, "Hundreds" doesn’t do demos or, heaven forbid, offer anything so pedestrian as verbal instructions.
Playing "Hundreds" is a wordless experience, anyway. Even that “red/dead” line of poetry is more music than meaning; and nothing so mortal as “death” happens to the fog-colored circles that are the game’s protagonists. These circles mostly start at zero. (Full disclosure: I’ve only made it to level 41 of 100+.) You drive up the value of the circles by touching them and holding them down, aiming each time to make the collective value of the circles total 100.
As you press to elevate the values, the circles turn red and swell until they run the risk of contacting one another or dangerous obstacles, like circle saws. If while you’re raising the number they run into a perilous element, you have to start again. Put another way: “If they touch when red then you are dead.”
Nothing about losing in "Hundreds" feels like dying, though. The music continues; the round can be replayed. No pigs or shirtless terrorists snort or gloat. You start again. Who says losing is not winning and the other way around? In "Hundreds" even gravity is inconstant.
At stratospherically high levels "Hundreds" is said to become so diabolically hard that Olympian gamers have already saluted it as a masterpiece of the puzzle-app form. One of my many “not since 'Tetris'” friends (women, by and large, who have not succumbed to the mesmeric charms of a puzzle game since "Tetris" suffused the Gameboys and PCs of the late 1980s) tells me that "Hundreds" has finally landed her in game-infatuation again. My 7-year-old son says he likes it more than "Angry Birds"; he busted me through level 28, which had become the devil level in my house, so I’m letting him take over when I get stuck.
"Hundreds" is spellbinding, but when I needed to take breaks, I could. And at times I found myself getting organically tired of it—and was pleased that I was able to take breaks. (I’m determined not to relapse to the addled days of my "Scramble" addiction.) Some of the objects and threats in "Hundreds" reminded me too much of "Cut the Rope"—a decently immersive puzzle game of "Angry Birds" vintage that nonetheless gets repetitive and even abrasive—and I worried that "Hundreds" couldn’t offer enough variety in its minimalism to keep me coming back level after level. But somehow it has.
Anagrams and other verbal ciphers appear periodically. Eager to get back to the expanding circles and the strange brain-state in which the game suspends me, I only solved one of those interstitial word games. That might be why I’m not past level 41. Or maybe it’s that I haven’t been surrendering deeply enough to "Hundreds." I know that, for now, it’s a dream I’m not ready to wake up from. I’ll give it another 30 hours.
Appitude: Hundreds is a dream of a gameThu, Jan 17, 2013 10:44 AM EST
By Virginia Heffernan
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By Solarina Ho TORONTO (Reuters) - Lululemon Athletica Inc warned on Thursday that fewer customers visiting its stores will hit its sales in the crucial fourth quarter, acknowledging that negative press surrounding a product recall and comments by its founder had hurt sales of its trendy yogawear. Lululemon, which was hit by an embarrassing recall in March when some of its signature black pants proved too see-through, said sales at established stores would be flat and lowered its full-year outlook, raising concerns that momentum at the once-hot retailer is fading. The company also indicated that supply chain issues will last much longer than expected. Chief Financial Officer John Currie said the drop in the number of customers was responsible for about two-thirds of the flat same-store sales forecast, with supply also a factor.
- Cisco cuts long-term revenue, earnings targets
By Sinead Carew and Nicola Leske NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc on Thursday cut its longer-term earnings and revenue growth targets due to problems in emerging markets, conservative customer spending and stalling growth in its core business of network equipment, the latest in a drumbeat of bleak developments at the Silicon Valley company. The company's shares fell as much as 3 percent to a seven-month low after it cut its three- to five-year revenue growth target to a range of 3 percent to 6 percent at its analysts' meeting. Cisco, which issued a warning on November 13 that revenue would decline in the current and coming quarters, also reduced its target for earnings-per-share growth to a range of 5 percent to 7 percent for the same period from its previous target of 7 percent to 9 percent. Chief Financial Officer Frank Calderoni said revenue in Cisco's core network equipment business would be flat to up 1 percent in the same time frame.
- GM to sell its 7-percent stake in French automaker Peugeot
General Motors Co said Thursday it will sell its entire 7 percent stake in French alliance partner PSA Peugeot Citroen because the investment is no longer necessary. GM will sell the 24,839,429 shares through a private placement to institutional investors. The company had acquired the stake in Peugeot when it entered into an alliance with the French company in March 2012. "Our equity stake was planned to support PSA in their efforts to raise capital at the time of the creation of the GM and PSA alliance, and that support is no longer needed," GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said in a statement.
- Air Canada to buy up to 109 Boeing 737 MAX planes
Air Canada said on Wednesday it will purchase up to 109 of Boeing Co's 737 MAX under its narrow-body fleet renewal plan, a major win for the aircraft maker and significant shift in supplier for Canada's largest carrier. The agreement, which includes 61 firm orders, will replace Air Canada's existing mainline fleet of Airbus narrow-body aircraft, the carrier said, confirming an earlier Reuters report. The deal marks a substantial competitive victory for Boeing over Airbus and a rebound on its home turf after Airbus displaced it at low-cost Mexican airline VivaAerobus in a fierce contest earlier this year.
- GM doesn't owe $450 million in retiree benefits: U.S. judge
A federal judge said General Motors Co is not required to pay $450 million to cover medical benefits for retirees, in a defeat for the United Auto Workers union. In a 36-page decision, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn in Detroit said on Tuesday that the current GM did not assume any obligation for the payment, which the automaker had contracted to make two years before its June 2009 bankruptcy filing. The payment had been part of a June 2007 contract between the old GM, its former Delphi Corp affiliate and the UAW. It was not, however, included in a different contract over medical benefits signed in July 2009 by the GM that emerged from Chapter 11.
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