Tilt To Live Lives up to the Name!

You gotta give props to a game where the enemies form a giant version of Pong to kill you. The retro-gamer gag is clearly on me, as I can't seem to survive more than about a minute and a half in this game. Tilt To Live is a well-done, and engaging enemy avoidance challenge not too un-like Spirit (see my review here). The game's difficulty seems to ramp up exponentially, and trying to squirm around and between the angry red dots quickly becomes all but impossible!

I installed the app directly from the App Store on my iPod touch, and have had zero problems running it. It's a slim 8.5M, which means grabbing it directly from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch is no problemo. I played the current 1.2 version, which should work on OS 2.2.1 and higher. Remember to reset your device after installing new software to avoid having problems (hold down sleep and home buttons for about 10 secs). The game starts up with a sometimes goofy load screen that includes some inane random joke. None so far have been as corny as Peggles' "Bustin Rad Moves".

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

What is TTL exactly, you ask? It's like this...Your guy is a mouse pointer (at least that's what it looks like)--radical, I know. Your pointer is being relentlessly chased by red dots which multiply around the open screen. I don't know the backstory. I guess red dots just intrinsically hate mouse pointers. Anyway, you must run or die. The game has social gaming aspects built-in that allow you to share scores, etc. with your fellow Tilters..

There are 3 game modes: Classic, Code Red, and Gauntlet. Classic starts after a 3-sec countdown to a sleepy green field with big rotating circular arrows in the background, which is bazaar, but then being a mouse pointer chased by red dots is not exacty an everyday thing either, right? You tilt the iPhone, and the mouse ponter moves around the screen. You avoid the dots, which appear in random and ever-growing formations, and will kill you if they touch you. You try to hit the power-ups, which will kill the red dots... Got it? Sounds easy, but it becomes hard, fast. And oh boy, the dots are smarter than they look.

Simple tilt-control games are certainly in the sweetspot for iPhone development, and are usually pretty boring (roll a ball though a maze, for example). What amazes me is how well this game is executed, and how the developer made the singular objective of getting away from a bunch of red dots interestingly varied, and fun. TTL is chock full of power-ups, and features to allow you to survive. The graphics are not over the top in any way (it's a 2-D tilter for crying out loud), yet masterfully done. The music is kinda weird, but somehow matches the atmosphere of the game, and not too annoying.

The game has some of the best options I have found for customizing the tilt controls. You can choose an orientation (top-down or landscape, which is called Regular), or use "Sleepy"--meant for playing while prone on the coach (e.g.tilt to steer mode--the pointer moves forward and you tilt left/right in the horizontal to steer). You can also set a custom tilt config by adjusting the view-angle of the unit.

The pointer moves a bit sluggishly to my liking (unless you execute more extreme titing), so it would be nice to be able to adjust the movement sensitivity a bit. The power-ups are cool but I couldn't seem to unlock new ones until I jumped over to Code Red mode ("Prepare to Die!"--the banner bills it that way). Playing in this mode for 30 seconds allowed me to unlock some kind of ice explosion power-up, but if I thought classic was tough, Code Red was sick. Red dots filled the screen almost instantly, and I was juking and jivin with my touch so wildly my wife thought I was having a fit. In the early classic levels, you have a few main power-up weapons: nukes-which explode an area of dots; cluster missiles-which go after the dots in a targeted fashion (my favorite); and ice blast-which sweeps through dots like knife though butter. Ice blast (I guess that's what it's called), is probably the hardest to use, but gives the best effect. It can sweep a swath of dots away across an entire corridor of the screen. You have to point it after picking it up, however, which often means turning into the teeth of the angery red dots chasing you.

TTL is not kind to noobs. The game is simple enough in concept. You get one guy to live for as long as possible. However, I haven't lived long enough to find out if I can earn an extra life! Gaunlet mode, is the only mode where you get multiple chances, but they get used up faster it seems. There you survive not only by hitting power-ups, but also whilst avoiding stuff flying out at you from the right side of the screen at high speed. Uh, you know, the usual stuff...battle axes, knives, solid red walls that have no apparent way around! No biggie...

I like this game a lot. It might become my new fav, though I am not going to gush all over like some reviews I've read of it being the best ever. It's a good game, and no reservations about saying it. Graphic effects are minimal, but well-done. Music, pretty good without being obnoxious, computery, or repetitve. The originality of the challenges, and how the red dots evolve to more fiendish ways of killing you are very good. The concept of getting one guy to start with is a little frustrating when the game gets hard quickly, so not sure about that aspect. The point though is to survive long enough to un-lock new features which should help you survive long enough to un-lock new...you get the idea. My prehistoric "get 3-man to start game" paradigm may need re-evaluation at that. Anyway, you can grab it for $1.99 at the link, and check out the YTube trailer as well below...

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.tumblr.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.