I was around nine years old when Apple’s iPhone 3GS released. I remember wanting to buy the phone so badly in 2010, just so I could play Angry Birds. You know, that game about slingshotting multicolored birds at green pigs that everyone seemed to rave about a decade ago? I eventually got to play the game the following year after wanting the phone so badly, but have never touched it since. This week, I feel fortunate to have tried a similar title called Lazy Thief, which reminded me of that bird-slinging game.
Lazy Thief is a Flash-era physics puzzler game about a lazy ninja who uses every instrument at his disposal to steal gems. The game was originally made eight years ago by Sean James McKenzie and Ajay Karat, but it disappeared with the death of Adobe Flash Player. It was brought back to life earlier this year by Anthony Lavelle, and is now downloadable on iOS and Android for free.
The game’s pretty straightforward. As a slothful ninja, you must plan out a strategy for how you can collect the gems sitting on various platforms. You have three throwable instruments to aid your lazy attempt at stealing: a rock, a rubber band ball, and a shuriken. To throw one, you must tap and drag across your screen and let go. A trajectory indicator makes hitting the right spot easier, but it’s not always accurate. I struggled a lot of the time with hitting my shots because of a slight offset in trajectory. This was particularly annoying in the beginning levels, before I learned to adjust for it.
Of the three tools this lethargic bandit uses, the rock is the heaviest and slowest; the rubber band ball is slightly faster and can bounce off surfaces; and the shuriken is the fastest and has the ability to cut some materials. Some levels will require using all three of these items in concert, while you’ll only need one of them for others.
You’ll need to chuck these instruments at blocks suspending gems in the air, or bounce them off the walls of your screen to ricochet and hit these platforms. It was pretty hard figuring out how to collect these gems, especially since they needed to drop into specific color-coded areas. The blocks that make up the framework for each puzzling level become more intricately placed, making for increasingly more perplexing gameplay as it progresses. All that is to say that even though the game’s mechanics were pretty simple, Lazy Thief’s puzzles were far from easy.
Precision and patience are key in solving these puzzles. The mechanics are straightforward, but basic scenarios can quickly turn infuriating if you can’t line up your shots or wait for the perfect opportunity to throw your rocks. Thinking outside the box is also necessary for solving a lot of the puzzles across later levels in Lazy Thief. It took me some time to figure out the perfect combinations of which items threw best at which angles, but I felt a sense of accomplishment once I understood what worked and didn’t.
The act of solving each puzzle is only the start, though. There are fifty levels to complete in Lazy Thief, and each of those levels has three stars to collect. Actually attempting to 100% levels by getting every star adds an invigorating layer of additional challenge to the game.
Reaching one or two stars is child’s play; as easy as pie. But getting that third one? That’s the ultimate test in Lazy Thief. Stars are rewarded based on the number of throws it took you to complete a level. The third star generally requires a maximum of one or two throws, which is a superhuman feat given how difficult some of the puzzles can be. As a completionist, pushing for those elusive three-star victories felt incredibly fulfilling, if equally just as maddening.
Lazy Thief may not be a true classic of the casual puzzle game genre like Angry Birds, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or subpar. Its simple mechanics form a solid foundation for the many intricate puzzles that make up the game’s levels. And thanks to the star system, solving those puzzles was as relaxing or thrilling as I wanted it to be.
SCORE: 3 STARS OUT OF 5
PLAY IF YOU LIKE:
• Angry Birds. If you enjoy slingshotting birds at pigs, you might like chucking stuff at blocks to get jewels in Lazy Thief.
• Cut the Rope. You may enjoy Lazy Thief's similar gameplay formula if you adore Cut Rope’s various puzzling levels.
💬 Have you played Lazy Thief? What’s your favorite Flash game that has been lost to history?
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