I'm the kind of person who, when faced with public services, occasionally mutters that he could do better and good merciful gracious how can things be this way. At 7:50am on a weekday morning I'm entirely convinced I could do a far better job than National Rail, and whenever traffic runs into gridlock around the M25 I'm about four seconds away from starting my own WordPress blog about why I should be President of the Universe. In extreme circumstances I might even utter something about how the rest of Europe can seem to make everything work just fine.
In the face of such an over-abundance of confidence, YoAmbulante's Traffic Wonder feels like it's been specifically designed to remind me how I'm a massive idiot. Turns out I can't make the traffic work at all.
Traffic Wonder is a straightforward idea - direct coloured cars alongside impractical roads to their matching destinations - turned into a real head-scratcher thanks to some utterly perplexing puzzle designs. Collisions are only half the battle, as you're also tasked with conserving fuel, and your overall success at the end of each level comes from how many valuable drops of petrol you've managed to save.
Not only do you have to make your increasingly complex criss-crossing routes work without injury, then, but you've also got to pull it off with some style. And the latter is something even the most talented of city zoning experts rarely accomplishes; sod knows how we're supposed to make it work. Then the game introduces the fact that some cars go a lot faster than others and it's all a potentially overwhelming mix of (mis)management.
The fact that it is so hard shouldn't be taken as detrimental, however, though the game's crisp visuals and beaming colour palette suggest a spot of gentle puzzling rather than the hours of agonising brain torture that awaits. Traffic Wonder is a far more precise and meticulous exercise than, say, Firemint's Flight Control, and its main trick is in calmly encouraging you to get involved with its agonising yet comforting loops of pausing and restarting over and over and over again.
Traffic Wonder is a surprise, then - it's surprisingly difficult, for a start, but it's also a very pleasant surprise that a game of such fiendish quality can exist in one of the most tedious and oversubscribed genres currently polluting the App Store.
Version Tested: iPhone