Developer: Sergey Buyanov
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
By name alone Power Toppler might make you think of Topple or Tower Bloxx, but make no mistake, Power Toppler isn’t even similar. On the heels of the release of the original version, Tower Toppler, into the Wii’s virtual console, Power Toppler is a remake of the 80’s game, also known as Nebulus and Castelian, now available in the App Store from Silver Software.
If you aren’t familiar with it, the game features a “guy” (in the original version a frog or something, in this remake a mechanical looking sprite) who attempts to destroy cylindrical towers by making his way precariously from bottom to top. To do so, he has to avoid the blob-like enemies attempting to thwart him at every turn.
When the game was originally released, the visual presentation got plenty of accolades for its overall design. You see, it was designed so that the character, no matter which direction he went, always remained in the center of the screen and everything else, including the cylindrical towers, rotated around him in the background — a bit of a (then) new take on the side-scrolling platformer. In Power Toppler, this aspect remains true to origin. So, does the overall premise of the game, though the graphics are more modern and better pixelated. However, one of the modern gripes of Tower Toppler is stiff control and frankly, I think Power Toppler may have mimicked that aspect as well.
To control the mechanical sprite in Power Toppler you touch and swipe either left or right, up or down, and he responds by plodding along. Perhaps on the iPhone/iPod touch platform, movement is a bit swifter than originally designed and sure, it’s intuitive enough, but it is still too arduous for a platformer. Changing directions and response time is quick enough in real time, but in game time, it simply takes a bit too long and provides just enough time to allow enemies to interfere. This makes progress almost painful, especially for the impatient.
Though the mechanical sprite has the ability to throw something weapon-like at certain enemies and objects blocking his path, he can’t defend himself against all enemies and has to avoid most. This is the part where he depends on you to provide precise timing and maneuvering, which as I said, is a bit rough. If an enemy gets to him, he is knocked off the tower’s outer ledge and either falls to a ledge below, or more often, plummets to his death in the water below. He gets one shot, so if death becomes him, you start over.
Though I found Power Toppler to be an extremely frustrating game, so much so that I gave up after several, several, several attempts at the just the first tower, there are others who might enjoy it. If you happen to be patient enough and are willing to memorize the process of progress in painstakingly small bits, you can play through a total of sixteen different towers, which is twice as many as the original version. With a little more forgiveness and a greater learning curve, Power Toppler would have some potential in my book, but as it is, it’s not a pick-up-and-play game and definitely not for the impatient iPhone gamer.