Petri-Dash is one of the new generation of “dodge everything” games that realizes a game can always use something more to do than just dodge things. In this case you are some sort of sub-species that lives in a Petri dish, and all you want to do is survive. In order to do that you’ll either have to dodge all the other organisms or take them on in a battle of butting heads in order to dominate the dish. Everything comes at a cost, however, and in this case you are constantly losing life just by swimming around. You are also weakened if you collide with another organism without dashing them. When your life is spent is back to the primordial pond for you. You can collect energy pellets to refuel your health, and there are also little versions of yourself that will attach to you when you run them over and give you bonus multipliers to your score. You lose these friends when you hit one of the bad guys.
There are three game play modes: endless, challenge and time attack modes. Endless is just like it sounds, and time attack gives you 60, 180 or 300 seconds to do the best you can. Note that in timed modes you can still expire before the time runs out by losing all of your energy. Challenge mode is supposed to let you play endless or any of the timed options using something called PlayDuel so you can challenge your friends. The thing is, no matter which option I pick once I’ve selected Challenge mode, the game crashes on me. I suppose this could be because I don’t have something set up right, but there’s nothing in the game that tells me Challenge mode requires special setup.
To guide your little protozoa you tap the left side of the screen to turn left, the right side to turn right and both sides to dash in your currently facing direction. You’re always moving, so you don’t have to worry about acceleration or braking. It’s actually not a bad control scheme, but it does take a bit of getting used to. What is pretty hard to get used to, on the other hand, is the fact that the game seems to freak out after two or three runs through or after playing for more than a minute or two on one round, whichever comes first. The game seems to be freezing up and your character acts like it’s jumping around, but the worst part is that you basically lose control of the game, making it unplayable until you die or hit the home button. I don’t know when this issue was introduced into the game, but it really needs to be fixed.
The graphics are cute. They’re simple and quite frankly look like something I could have drawn, but you get used to them after a while. Since they are basically supposed to be microscopic organisms it is okay that they aren’t overly detailed. The sound effects are all right, but they are fairly limited so they won’t ever get on your nerves. The music is decent enough to keep you entertained for the amount of time a round would take to complete for the average player.
When I first played this game I remember thinking that it was actually a decent variant of the genre and had some good potential. I still think it does, but it’s kind of hard to recommend a game that has technical issues like losing control of your character. Assuming they release a fix to this problem I would definitely check out Petri-Dash, especially if you like this kind of game, but until then there are enough other “dodge everything” games on the market that it’s not worth the hassle.
Overall Score: 5/10
App Store Link
Petri-Dash was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.0.1.