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article imageReview: Android smartphone game tests 3D thinking ability

By Abigail Prendergast     Jan 28, 2013 in Technology
A Budapest-based tech company named Binura has successfully made the spatial part of IQ tests fun. In the Android game, rOtal, players can test their 3D mental acuity by matching blocks which take up the X, Y, and Z axes.
Spatial intelligence, often associated with design and engineering skills, allows those who have a high level of it to think in pictures, or even in a cognitive 3-dimensional space. People who score well in this area often excel in subjects like art, science, and even writing.
Since having an advanced spatial (also known as visual-spatial) adeptness results in a knack for perceiving things in a precise, detailed, and accurate mental 3D space, it is generally a very good asset in the computer modeling, drafting, and painting processes. Some people can even touch and smell objects they focus on within their cerebral confines.
As Fast Co.Design reports, a new game for Android smartphones gives a radical new twist on testing this type of right-brained intellect; it's simple, it's fun, and it can even help players improve their spatial capacity.
The application is called rOtal, and was produced by the four-person strong tech company, Binura.
The rOtal app is a spin on the traditional spatial section of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests; it's free, and it only requires version 1.3 of the Android operating system to play. The premise and the interface are quite simple; you look at 3D block objects, all with their own distinct patterns, builds, and colors, and attempt to pick two of the same exact types before time runs out. In a way, it is also a savvy incarnation of the card game, Memory.
You begin the game by picking one of the three difficulty levels, easy, medium, and hard. Players can choose between six, twelve, and twenty block rounds which challenge them to find matching units before time runs out. You begin with a screen full of a select number of blocks as dictated by the aforementioned difficulties, spinning up until you press the screen with your finger, or perhaps even a compatible stylus.
Then comes the real challenge; in order to complete a round (one per session), players must use their spatial faculties to find which of the blocks match another. They are all in sets of two, but unlike the IQ test section for the same intelligence area, are not all facing the same direction. In fact, the only real difference between this and an IQ test is that rOtal takes quite a bit of advantage of the Z-axis, which is the direction going toward and back.
Now, the game isn't so cruel as to just leave players having to guess solely from mentally eyeballing around the blocks' framework; the screen can be rotated (though, only latitude-wise) to give you a better idea as to what shapes the blocks are forming. There are also different shades of gray, going from black to white, but reduce in gradation as you move up from easy to medium. In hard mode, the blocks are entirely monotone white, making the puzzle even trickier to solve.
Despite, or possibly because, of its simplicity and most certainly due to its challenge caliber, rOtal, as Co.Design states, does not merely fall right smack dab in the center between addicting and frustrating, but if such a barrier between the two happened to be a spiral in the sand of a miniature zen garden, then apparently Bence Samu and Agsonton Nagy - two of Binura's members - quite wittingly went straight through it with one of those little plastic rakes.
In other words, not quite blurring the lines, or in this case, a spiral, but obscuring it in such a manner that it isn't really hybridizing enjoying the game with wanting to throw your phone or tablet against the wall; rather, seesawing back and forth between such emotions in a zig-zag pattern akin to one the rake strokes over the spiral would have created.
What's more, is that such a maneuver is in fact, something to behold as opposed to resent. In fact, it is quite brilliant. Why? Because, even if I can only speak for myself, the maddening effect it had after a few losses subsequently transmuted into motivation, a drive to overcome failing the stages and thus, completing them and improving my recorded times.
Yes, the game does have a top times list: my best time on easy mode is currently 5.325 seconds, 16.965 secs on medium, and 46.478 on hard.
You may notice quite a gap in seconds between the medium and hard mode time scores; that would be more a less due to a pretty steep curve between the two difficulties. Not really a gripe on my part, more so a quirky observation, if anything.
Overall, the game, rOtal, available from the Google Play Store, is very challenging, stimulating, and even fun. It doesn't cost you a dime, and if you have a little extra time on your hands to turn potential frustration into drive, then this app is most certainly worth a try.
You may even sharpen your visual-spatial skills in the process.
More about rotal, binura, Android, Spatial skills
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