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The Great iOS Game Search: On A Tilt

I am simply convinced that Apple’s iOS platform has a lot of potential for great gaming experiences. The powerful hardware, responsive touchscreens, and gorgeous displays of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch are brimming with possibility. Unfortunately, the App Store is filled with shovelware and games that don’t do the OS justice. As such, I have decided to go on a search to find those digital diamonds in the rough that are not only great games, but are designed for the platform as well. 

On a Tilt perfectly exemplifies the difference between a good and a great game, only it winds up on the wrong side of the fence than the one it was probably aiming for.

The iOS App Store is filled with terrific titles that sell for next to nothing, yet manage to squeeze admirable amounts of creativity and fun out of simple ideas. On the surface, On a Tilt sounds like it might fit right in. The game presents you with four bars on screen, two horizontal and two vertical. In each bar is a tiny strip that is controlled by tilting the device. As each pair of bars (one vertical, one horizontal) is on an opposite axis from the other, you must twist your device (and your brain) in crazy ways so that the strips in your control line up with green target areas. 

This does make for a certain amount of fun, but On a Tilt never manages to overcome the feeling that you’re playing around with a hidden programmer’s tool rather than a full game. The presentation is simple to a fault, lacking any charm or spark, and there’s no compelling reason to keep coming back to it. The single mode available is repetitive, taking too long to warm up and become challenging. Once it does, you’ll find yourself frustrated rather than entertained because it relies on cheap tricks to increase difficulty. 

The green target zones become smaller or start moving around, which isn’t so bad until they also start fading in and out so you literally can’t see what you’re aiming for. Perhaps the most annoying quirk is its habit of flipping the screen upside down for no apparent reason, forcing you to waste time moving your device around in order to continue. This isn’t a fun challenge, it’s a waste of time designed to eat away precious seconds on the game’s timer. The game has few obstacles to throw your way, and most are simply annoying instead of entertaining.

The primary issue is that, on a mechanical level, On a Tilt doesn’t feel all that different to play than something like Super Monkey Ball or one of the other countless games that require you to tilt the device to win in some fashion. Compared to its competition, this game is too bare-bones to compete. It’s not a terrible game by any stretch, and could undoubtedly be improved with additional updates bringing new challenges or modes, but as it stands it doesn’t manage to distinguish itself in a sea of similar titles.

Verdict: Miss

Miss - There are a lot of ways a game could get a “Miss” rating, but the bottom line is that these games probably aren’t worth your time. They may have some great ideas and they’re certainly not all terrible, but some aspect of their design has rendered these games less than enjoyable to play in their current form. They may not be a good fit for the platform, they may have clunky controls, or they simply might not be fun. Long story short: spend your App Store dollars elsewhere.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Brendan,

Really interesting post about, "On A Tilt." I am the developer of the game. There was a lot of thought put into your review. There is a new version out right now, which is hugely improved from the first version. I'd be really interested to hear a revision of your thoughts after the update. I'm working hard to make it the best that I can. It's really nice to hear some fresh look at the game.

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Thanks for your comments. I received my copy of the game from you for review purposes actually (I was a bit tardy in posting my article), so it's nice to hear back from you. It's always a good sign when the developers seem involved and ready to keep working on and improving their game. Glad to hear it. I'll check out the update.

May 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrendan T. Smith

Yes please do. Thanks :)

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

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