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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Droidz (iPhone/iPod Touch)

I had something entirely different planned for today, and I know I've just written about an iPod game, but when I heard anout this, I just had to give it a go.

I've already mentioned Quazatron here, and quite recently. I complained that it couldn't measure up to Paradroid, which it is heavily based on. Well, Droidz basically IS Paradroid, on your phone. Is it a perfect port, though?

Well... not quite.

It does have a lot going for it, though. I mean, the basic gameplay is the same... control your Remote Influence Device droid aboard a fleet of hijacked dreadnaughts, clearing them of renegade, out-of-control robots. The premise is just as good now as it always was.

This version uses the tilt mechanism to move around the ship, and by and large it works pretty well. Another change comes with the firing method... just tap on the screen in the direction you want to shoot, and you will indeed deal laser-death in that direction. This actually works better than the original to my mind, and makes cruising the ships a lot of fun. It's really intuitive. Also, the graphics have been tarted up... just a touch, but enough to notice.

Where does it go wrong, then? And why did you just know that it would?

Well, one minor flaw is that you start on the same deck every time (at least, I have so far). That's just a little thing, but it's quite a noticeable difference nonetheless. A bigger flaw is that some of the robots just move too slowly. For instance, I gained control of a 296 robot, and found that I could hardly move! I'm wondering if clearing the iPod's cache might help the game run better, because at other time I can move about quite swiftly... but it's worth bearing in mind.

And then there's the game's infamous transfer system. If you want to have the weaponry and defences to survive on the ship's higher levels, you're going to need to be able to transfer to higher classes of robot. You do this by means of a sub-game, which sees you face-off against the robot of your choice on a type of circuit board, and the robot with the most lights lit at the end of time wins.

I've found that on the iPod, this is too fiddly. For one thing, it's easy to accidentally tilt the iPod and end up on a very unfavourable or even impossible side, and facing certain death. But even if you do end up on the side of the board that you wanted, moving the markers up and down the board and pressing fire is very awkward on the small touch screen.

These flaws are a shame, because Paradroid is still a really good game. They're not enough to put me off altogether, but I can imagine that some people will feel like chucking their expensive equipment across the room in frustration. If you think you'll be able to cope, go for it, because if you get past that you've got portable Paradroid. Wish Andrew Braybrook had something to do with it, though...

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