Apple Collector is a unique puzzle/physics game written in Java by Matt Hopkins. The goal of each level is to collect a certain number of apples within the specified time period. The delicious fruits pour out of containers and you must draw girders to bounce them into the right basket. The game begins simply enough but introduces multiple colors of apples and other complications that will make your apple picking days much more challenging.
You guide apples into their baskets by setting up girders for them to bounce off of. Simply click and drag with the left mouse button and release when you're ready to place. You can remove the structures by right clicking or tapping the spacebar while the cursor is over a girder. This is the bread-and-butter of Apple Collector and it's important to build an intuitive sense of where girders should be placed and exactly when to place them. It's equal amounts of timing and precision and it takes some time to get the hang of.
The wooden boxes at the bottom of the screen are confusing at first, but really they're an integral part of the gameplay strategy. Each box represents an event and has a timer bar indicating when that event will end. They also have icons on the face showing you what exactly will happen, plus a white string tied to the object it will affect (usually the apple cannon). It sounds a little complicated, but once you play the game you'll see how easy the system works. When you're playing all you have to do is glance at the bottom of the screen to see what's going to happen next.
The levels get tough pretty quickly, forcing you to become proficient at girder laying at a rapid pace. Fortunately you can retry a level at any time or just skip it and move on to the next. There's also a downloadable version of Apple Collector that allows you to create your own levels with a little programming finesse. Just follow the instructions on Matt's website to make your own apple collecting bonanza.
Analysis: When I first saw Apple Collector I was overwhelmed with moving objects and seemingly complex gameplay. After reading the short intro everything fell into place and I was hooked. The great thing about this game is that it involves both quick reflexes and a logical mind. You can't just place girders willy-nilly (did I just type that?), you have to know what to place and when to place it. Quite a remarkable game stuffed into such an unassuming package.
Thanks to Matthew for sending this one in!