By Nate Adcock on Tue, 03/09/2010
Spirit, designed by programmer Marco Mazolli, is the kind of retro-looking game that I gravitate towards, pun intended. The crisp vector-like graphics, airy music, and retro game grid is like playing a trippy version of Tempest, Star Castle, and Tron all rolled together (some of my favs from the 80s). The only problem is that Spirit becomes too dificult in the early levels, and there is a definite lack of power-ups or extra lives to sustain you into the higher levels.
You can grab the game in the app store here. It's a quick download at only 8MB and is compatibile with iPhone and iPod touch running version 3.0 or later. I reviewed version 1.0 of the game, and it installed without issue, and I had no problems while running it.
Your "spirit" guy is the teardrop with stubby wings, and enemies are pretty much everything else. The object of the game is to avoid running into the objects that warp onto your grid. Some move towards you and others exhibit random motion. You can warp them out of your grid by surrounding them (finger drag to move your guy around). Your spirit trails a dashed line behind when moving. When the line encircles an enemy or chunk of space, a warp zone appears, swallowing enemies. Sometimes, an easy kill is to create a small zone in their path and let them move into it as they come at you.
I'm not aware of any backstory as to what the objects are--some are protozoan in look and movement, others more like spinning jacks--why they are after the "spirit", or what you will ultimately achieve (spirit nirvana, maybe)? The game is, after all, a mere 99 cents (at least now for the initial launch).
Overall, I like the look-n-feel of this game, but I would like to suggest to the developer a few tweaks. First, a continue option would be nice. Once you die, you have to start again at level 1. The game control screen works pretty well, but can be touchy. I often run into an enemy without meaning to, but I like that I can control the action from any part of the screen. I will have to test out the movement sensitivity to see if that helps. I did note a better experience by placing my touch on a flat surface while playing. I would like to see some way to win power-ups, shields, and extra lives (maybe I just haven't progressed high enough yet), but nonetheless, I give Spirit my iphonelife stamp of approval. The music is electronica bliss, the graphics and gameplay smooth as silk, and it has the right retro mix. With a little backstory, and some definable goals for the levels (with rewards), this good game could become great.
Check out Spirit in the app store...