Developer: bitforge Ltd.
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Orbital, the new space-themed app from BitForge, is a stand-out game that can be played with one hand. It falls loosely into the brick-breaker category, but takes this straightforward concept adds a few new ideas, a bit of social media and packages it all up with gorgeous graphics. In fact, it's so polished that I can't immediately think of a better looking app.
Don't let Orbital's shiny graphics and simple instructions lull you into thinking this iPhone app is child's play. The rules are easy, but the gameplay takes strategy and skill.
Much like pool, it's all about the angles. If your aim is true, you'll destroy each target after 3 collisions. If your aim is off, your orb will bounce erratically until the targets disappear with an explosion of color that almost eases the sting of losing.
For most of this review, I'm only talking about Pure Mode. In Pure Mode, Orbital gameplay is exactly what you might expect. Aim, shoot and if you're right, you're right. But, for more advanced players, Orbital has two modes.
Gravity Mode is not for the feint of heart. In Gravity Mode, each target produces a gravity field that tugs at your orb as it shoots across the sky. For me, Gravity Mode is instant Orbital death. But, if you've got what it takes to play against the gravitational forces it looks like a lot of fun.
The App Store description calls Orbital "highly addictive." What an understatement! Orbital should come with a warning: "May cause sleeplessness and increased Facebook updates." I had serious one-more-game syndrome for about three days. I knew I was in trouble when I started thinking I could probably sneak in a quick game or two on the freeway — you know, because traffic was kind of slow that day.
Why increased Facebook updates? Orbital uses Facebook Connect to let players update their profile page whenever they beat their personal high score. When logged in, users can also compare their score to their FB compatriots. Unfortunately, none of my friends had Orbital which immediately put an end to my hopes of social-media smack talk.
I love the worldwide leaderboard and personalized FB leaderboard. But, it would be nice if these social aspects included the ability to play with others over WiFi. Orbital has a two-player mode which is really fun, but I can't always find a partner. Connecting with other Orbital players for a quick game would be just about the only thing that could make this game more awesome.