Nowadays there is little room for absolute innovation in the realm of gaming. Though quite a sober and bold opening statement, it’s not necessarily a bad thing; genres will continue to develop, old formulas re-invented. It’s an inevitable, cyclical process and as gamers, we’re forever reaping the benefits. Elpixo’s Curvebot is a prime example of this perpetual evolution, stripping the core mechanics from Taito’s 1981 arcade classic, Qix, to create a vibrant and much more accessible title exclusively for the iOS platform.[boxout]Curvebot is broken into ten separate worlds each with six stages, singular floating boards on which the game is played. The objective is simple, use your bot to carve chunks out of the boards whilst also trying to avoid numerous obstacles. Completing a stage is as easy as hewing away 80% of a board, thereby releasing any “Fiery Friends.” These are static nodes, often positioned at polarising ends of the playing field and can’t be separated, forcing players to think creatively before snipping away.
The control layout and interface prevent any on-screen hindrances. Two buttons are located in the left and right bottom corners, used to navigate your bot around the perimeter of the board; pressing both buttons simultaneously will prompt your bot to start cutting. Cuts are made using a single line which can be steered in order to adjust the final outline. If your line is valid (if it doesn’t endanger any Fiery Friends) the area you’ve cut will be discarded and it’s total size percentage added to an on-screen counter.
Players will also have to keep an eye out for Drones. These are Curvebot’s enemies and will try to prevent you from chopping away sections of the board by either intercepting your cutting lines or simply barging directly into you. Drones come in several varieties, each varying in speed and hostility. After the first initial stages, it’s likely you will twig on to Curvebot’s most efficient tactic. By incapacitating enemies first, you are then free to cut any shape you wish without fear of being interrupted.[drop2]Some will be relieved to hear that there is no death (or defeat) in Curvebot; being struck by a Drone will only force you to redraw your cutting line, also dispelling any bonus effects currently active. These bonuses, which include invulnerability, drone freezing, and infinite boost, are embodied within coins scattered across each board. Hacking away a section which is directly beneath a coin will earn you the bonus which is then activated the next time you initiate a cutting line.
The only issue with Curvebot’s gameplay is it’s lack of diversity. Each board is unique in size and layout, but you are always tasked with the same objective, and it’s also likely you will tackle each stage using the exact same technique. With 60 levels in total, and launching at twice the price of your average iOS title, longevity may also be a problem for some mobile gamers. However, with such a simple template to follow, it’s more than likely that the folks at Elpixo will continue to support Curvebot with additional content.
Sporting full 3D graphics, Curvebot is an absolute treat for retro fans. The vibrant colour palette is intended to stoke fond memories of the arcade era, and there are even a couple of homages to Pac Man scattered throughout. Sound effects and music are of standard quality, though due to the pick up and play nature of Curvebot, they have no negative impact of the game whatsoever.
- Playful, vibrant visuals.
- Inventive result screen, depicting which pieces were removed.
- Easy to learn with plenty of room for creativity.
- Humorous in nature.
- Entry fee won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
- Will only last for a few hours if you have no interest in climbing leaderboards.
If you are a die-hard iOS gamer looking for something which isn’t a re-shelved knock-off of Angry Birds or similar best-sellers Curvebot will prove to be nothing short of refreshing. It looks great and is ideal for play-on-the-go, the only two traits required for a fantastic mobile game. However, those who aren’t into the score-chasing scene may feel a little short-changed for the asking price.