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Sand Trap

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Rating: 3.8/5 (91 votes)
Comments (29) | Views (12,337)

joyeSand TrapRemember those choking-hazard-tastic plastic maze toys you would get as a kid, usually as a dinky prize for something? How you'd squint your beady little eyes as you rotated the thing? How it usually ended with you chucking the thing at the head of a sibling? Relive those happy memories in Sand Trap, a puzzle where you rotate a box to pour the sand trapped within into a pail. It's another fine HTML5 game from Gopherwood Studios, and a runner up in our Casual Gameplay Design Competition #8.

You have two control options: [arrow] keys or mouse. [Up] or [left] rotate the box of sand counterclockwise, and [down] and [right] rotate the box clockwise. You can hold a key to spin the box in that direction, or just tap it to get a tiny and precise shift. With the mouse, click on the box and hold, and then move the mouse in the direction you want it to spin.

You may find that your ability to enjoy this game is hampered by your browser. On my machine, I have three browsers. On Firefox, the game runs like a dead turtle, and there's no music. On Safari, the game runs fine, but there's still no music. On Chrome, the game runs fine, and there is music! So before leaving a "THE BOX TURNS ABOUT AS FAST AS MY GRANDPA'S HIP 0/5" comment, try it in a different browser.

Analysis: Using the mouse control, you can flip the box almost instantly, whereas with the arrow key control, there seems to be a steady top speed. This is a significant drawback to using the arrow keys, because some levels you need to spin faster than the arrow keys allow; otherwise the level is literally impossible. So the mouse would seem to be clearly superior. But the mouse control can be unpredictable and difficult to gauge (since it's easy for the mouse to go off the game window or accidentally skid across the center of the box and cause it to flip), and it's not very good with tiny movements. So the arrow keys are still useful.

Sand TrapI really feel like the levels would have been easier if I could have used [WASD] with my left hand and the mouse with my right, using both together. Difficulty in puzzles should always come from the puzzle, not from the controls. The controls should be smooth as silk; the player shouldn't even need to really think about them. Anything else is a recipe for frustration, especially because the amount of sand you can waste without losing is so small.

If you're playing in a browser where the game runs at the correct speed, then the control issues are usually minor and only really rankle in a couple of the levels that require both speed and accuracy, since the mouse is fast but not accurate and the keyboard is accurate but not fast. In most of the levels, you usually can stick with one control scheme the entire time, and the most important quality is the patience to let sand grains trickle to the place you want them before moving the box again.

Since this "genre" of the turning maze is so firmly entrenched in the Happy Meal and Crackerjack prize, and since so many of us (including myself) have such idyllic/frustrating memories of playing with same, I'm surprised that I can't think of many other online games that do what Sand Trap is doing. Despite the control issues, I really enjoyed the trip back to a simpler time, and I loved the variety of the levels, from simple mazes, to balls that block exits, to moving parts. Summer in the northern hemisphere is over, and the southern hemisphere still has some months to go. No beach vacation this year? Sand Trap contains all the best elements of an ocean vacation: relaxing music, blue water, lots of sand, a happy pail, and a giant floating labyrinth. Time for a little staycation!

Play Sand Trap

Note: At this point in time considering the spotty browser support for HTML5, for best results use Chrome to play this game.


Best argument against HTML5 games I've seen in awhile. Works differently in each browser, lovely.

That said, the game play is OK if uninspired in the earlier levels. If it ran well in all browsers I'd say it was an interesting tech demo, but as is it doesn't even seem to add up to that.


Is it just the Windows XP, years old computer i'm using, or does this game have problems with flow? It's not as smooth as i'd want a physics game to be. Makes some of the levels more frustrating than puzzling. :/


looks interesting, but it seems to run like poop on my work computer (which is normally not too bad) i couldn't even get past the intro


sorry, just to clarify my last post, i've tried on FF and IE. i don't feel like installing chrome right now just to try this.


HTML5 is not supported in all browsers yet, so you'll need an HTML5 capable browser to play.

The best browser on the market today for HTML5 is Chrome. That may change in the near future once Firefox 4 is released.

This game was my personal favorite from the competition. There is an elegant simplicity to the gameplay that makes it the perfect casual game to me. Truly an excellent game!


Used chrome (frankly, why aren't you using it?) and it ran to perfection.

Game is alright. Like the concept. My first thought is that this is an ipod game.


I got it to work for a while in FF.Cute and very different, and I really liked it until it either didn't move at all or became so herky-jerky that I couldn't control it at all.

But writing a game that doesn't run well in the most popular browser on the web (at least right now)?

Nice game, but I'm with the other poster who refuses to install a browser just to play a game.

[Firefox (v3.x) is not multi-threaded and performance will suffer with any game you play because of that. Why aren't you using a multi-threaded browser? Otherwise you don't have much room to complain about games that don't perform well, because it's generally not the game's fault. -Jay]


I never could understand why some people refuse to install a different browser, especially in this day and age with so many advancements (like HTML5) being added to the Web experience. It's not like installing a new browser, especially Chrome, is such a complex task.

Patreon Contributor kingjulien86 September 9, 2010 5:01 PM

I don't use Chrome because it doesn't load pictures or video well on ANY computer I've used it on. That being said, now that I know the game runs better in Chrome, I will be sure to load it there. Maybe you should add a disclaimer to that effect since people have their own browser preferences.

[Good suggestion. Done. -Jay]


kingjulien - I'm honestly somewhat surprised to hear that chrome for you "doesn't load pictures or video well on ANY computer I've used it on". I find it works superbly on every computer I've used it on - it's so incredibly fast with javascript. Are there some specific sites you have issue with?

Patreon Contributor kingjulien86 September 9, 2010 6:47 PM

All of the common ones: Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, New York Times. I've checked that it is the most recent version, and updated Flash, Shockwave, and everything else I could think of as well as clearing internet history. I got fed up and went back to Firefox.

Once I got the game loaded in Chrome, it worked like a dream. I must have spent an hour playing (an hour in which I should have done my homework). I'll just have to remember that HTML 5 works best in Chrome.


Completely unresponsive in Opera. As in, it loads fine and the music and speed seems to be good. Its just that the controls do nothing. Neither mouse or keyboard will move the game piece. Clicking still works though.


Interesting, I tried with Firefox & Safari; the latter was noticeably faster but Ff played the music. Anyway, fun and innovative game, if not quite my style.


Actually ran ok for me in FF and had music (which got quickly muted regardless), but I quit the game on level 3 because it was so godawfully boring.


I've tried Chrome and hated it for all the obvious reasons. I like my programs to only show up ONCE in the Processes tab of Task Manager, not five hundred times.

Game should have been coded with accessibility in mind. Sorry, but that's just how I feel about it.

[The reason that more than 1 process appears when Chrome is running is because it is a multi-threaded application. This is a good thing. Firefox 4 will also be multi-threaded, so you might better get used to seeing more processes in your task manager. -Jay]


Thank you for the review joye!

Opera should work now - sorry, small bug.

In retrospect, going with a rendering-intensive physics puzzler was probably not the best route to take with HTML5 at this point. Javascript performance and HTML5 support just isn't consistent across browsers.

I'm glad that some of you enjoyed it and had the fun experience we were aiming for (probably in Chrome :-).

Every major browser is currently rapidly trying to speed up their javascript processing, Firefox being a great example. My confident hope is that a few months from now, this entire discussion will no longer be an issue and you will be able to enjoy this game (and more like it) in the browser of your choice, and it will be fast :-). So if you hate the lag now and have no desire to install Chrome, maybe come back in few months and give it another run.


Just get a big black box in IE. Tried in Chrome, was fun for a while, although there were some stuttering issues.

All these tech demos for HTML5 -- various games, the Arcade Fire demo, etc. -- aren't making a very strong case for ditching Flash/Silverlight for HTML5 if your goal is to give the user a consistent experience.


One issue with the implementation of the physics: when the sand has left the sand trap and is falling down towards the bucket, it doesn't keep falling straight down if you start rotating the sand trap. This is in Firefox, but I doubt that it's a browser bug.

Nice idea, though. I like the simplicity of it.


I love the concept. Exchanging a ball with sand.. genius.

The only thing that slightly irritates me is the way the entire sandbox starts spasming when I accidentally move my mouse pointer near the center...


Ok.. the sand is stuck in the third level. A bug or am I missing something crucial?


Same bug here but on level 8.

But no speed issues here, FFox+ slow comp.
Sand fell good, a bit sticking to walls (I guess its supposed to simulate wet sand).


To fix bug, just close and start game again (levels are saved).


I honestly don't see why you spent a whole paragraph getting angry about wasd/arrow keys. Unless Jay/you nailed the keyboards down to prevent theft, you can always relocate the keyboard such that the arrow keys are comfortable for your left hand. Even if half the keyboard is off the keyboard tray, your left hand should be heavy enough to prevent the keyboard from slipping off. If your arrow keys jammed from playing too many platformers... that's a different problem. [and why did I spend a paragraph complaining about you spending a paragraph complaining about...]

Not everyone wants to bloat their HDD with 9 different browsers. Sure, it's 10mb/300gb, but it's still 10mb of bloat. I also don't want to spend time thinking "this website has html5, so chrome is better, but it also has ____ that FF is better with, oh right, I also need to open IE to get windows update going". Furthermore, synchronizing bookmarks/extensions/etc across the browsers is a pain.


you are entitled to feel that way of course, but stubbornness like that leaves you little room to complain. And who said anything about 9 browsers? all we're talking here is 1 additional one. but whatever.


i am a firefox fan but took the chrome plunge just for this game... while not flawless, it played without too many hiccups! glad i made the effort! thanks for a fun game :)


I used Chrome but it said "This game requires Javascript." I already enabled Javascript and also tried running chrome with it but to no avail.


Just played in Safari 5 on Mac OS X 10.6. No music, but the speed is fine.


Im having problems with level 18 o____o
please someone help?


i am on the last level and need some advice, anyone wanna help me out?


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