Support Nathan, click to buy via us...
This week I've been playing (a lot) what I think is the most important iPod Touch/iPhone game to be released so far. I say ‘game', but if I tell you that what I'm referring to is Toy Bot Diaries Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3, then you might well be justified in questioning why I didn't pluralize my noun.
However, while it is strictly more accurate to describe the adventures of IUGO's cute robot hero as a trilogy, having spent the last few days playing them through, I've come to the conclusion that they are essentially a single game.
The main reason I say this is that, although they are brilliant, they are simply too short and too samey to count as proper games in their own right. The first episode, Entry 1, for example, has four stages of which the first is essentially an intro and the last is just a boss. In fact, when I defeated this first boss, it took me a good while to realise that I'd actually finished the game.
Having fired my robot-self from a cannon into the boss's huge red combine-harvester the requisite number of times (five), I found myself back at the main screen without even such as a ‘Well done, you completed the game' message, which was quite confusing.
Having been designed for the Touch, these controls feel natural and are non-invasive.
From the way it all happened, I'd say that IUGO don't even really think of there being any proper distinction between the episodes. Finishing the first and starting the second felt pretty much like when a T.V. film continues after having paused for the news, and Entry 2 gives way to Entry 3 in only slightly more ceremonious a fashion. It is probably the fledgling nature of the platform that convinced them to split it into three shorter and cheaper episodes, but the more games like these that get made, the sooner such reticence will fade.
So, in what sense is do I think this 1-in-3 is the most important game on our portable device of choice? Well, for a start, the Toy Bot games are quite simply the best native Touch/iPhone releases that I've played. You see, unlike most Touch game characters, my new best robotic friend was born to walk and swing in the direction I tilt and to attach his magnetic grappling hook or boots to whatsoever I touch. Having been designed for the Touch, these controls feel natural and are non-invasive in a way that those of even the best ports I've played do not.
However, I don't want to focus too much on the controls. The truth is, the slick, intuitive interface is just the biscuit base of the cheesecake. What I really like about these games - where, if you like, the lemon cheese is at - is the really nice blend of clever physics, logic puzzles, cute characters and well thought out set pieces.
If you haven't already, buy these games.
I had most fun working through the zero-gravity sections of the third episode, but there are plenty of good times to be had in each Entry. While there is a decent step-up in difficulty between each, even Entry 1 has its throw-the-Touch-against-the-wall-in-frustration moments. One, which requires balancing atop a giant rolling ball and grabbing a suspended ring which comes into view a fraction of a second before you plunge to an electric death, had me going a fair old while. Even when the puzzles got tricky, I was almost continuously aware that really good games are rarely this much fun.
I would like to see the three episodes joined together and rewrapped as the single game that they clearly are - but then all that would really achieve is the freeing of two springboard slots. Basically, serious gaming has arrived on the Touch and it looks like a small magnetic robot swinging from a metal girder. If you haven't already, buy these games. Click off this page right now (please do come back later), open iTunes and get downloading. A world of imaginative, engaging and extremely satisfying platform and puzzle action awaits you. You will not regret it.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: