Posted on April 30, 2008
Upon a cursory glance, building games for the iPhone would be a designers dream. The screen is huge (for a phone), the device is powerful, and then there’s those awesome touchscreen and accelerometer interfaces you get to work with. It doesn’t take long to realize that the novelty of the iPhones interface wears of quickly when trying to adapt it to a game. Using the touchscreen to control pieces often blocks the action in a scene and games that use the accelerometer’s interface give the gamer motion sickness. So far, what’s worked best on the iPhone has been to keep the game simple. So far, one of the most addictive games I’ve played has been CubicMan by Passionfools.
CubicMan is basically an iPhone port of Bloxorz, a fantastic flash based strategy game by Damien Clark. The goal is to navigate a block through a puzzle and getting it to land on a certain square. Dragging your finger on the screen in a direction will roll the block in that direction. Roll too close to the edge and your block falls off.
The original CubicMan was only nine levels long and didn’t have any extra obstacles on the boards, but the newest edition of CubicMan (released today) is
21 23 levels and has included several “buttons” and extra challenges to keep the game from getting monotonous.
Like I said, the game is pretty much just a port of Bloxorz, but it does adapt well to the iPhone. It took about 30 minutes to beat, but unlike most puzzle games each level can be solved different ways, so the game remains highly re-playable. I’m glad they added new levels, sounds, and features, but there are still a few things I feel the game is lacking;
Save. Why don’t all iPhone apps include save options, or even an autsave mode? Most of these games are casual games, great for bus rides, etc. But everytime you turn off the game, you have to restart from the first levels, which becomes tedious. nevermind, see dr_watson’s comments below
2. Multiplayer function. This would be best in a real time format, but it could be done by two or more players on the same device by pitting players against each other one level at a time using either a move counter or timer to determine scores.
3. Limitations. Like I said, the game is only 21 levels long, and very re-playable, but why? What goal is there to work for? Perhaps the game can get increasingly difficult by limiting the number of moves available on each level. On the first run through, each level could allow up to 250 moves, but after betting the 21 levels, the next round could only allow 200 moves.
This game is a must have for easily amused iPhone users and a great example of simple/addictive play. I don’t think it has to just be a strategy game though… I could see a game with similar play/objectives, but perhaps it could have “villians” that you have to avoid in the process of getting in to the end. Add in “gold coins” and time bonuses and the game shifts to an objective of getting to the end while obtaining high scores.