June 12th, 2009
Ion Charge: Somewhere between “ridiculously addictive” and “throw your iPhone across the room”
Every successful game developer knows that they have to walk an extremely thin line. A psychological balance beam between aggravation and satisfaction. Make a game too easy and no one will play it. Make it too difficult and the same thing happens. The challenge is to build a game that frustrates the user enough that they find it challenging—while steering clear of so much hair tearing that they walk away, never to return. It’s a delicate balance.
And it takes skill to pull it off.
Oh sure. It seems simple enough. Change the polarity on your little ion. And with those changes in polarity, it will be attracted or repulsed from surfaces within the game.
Easy right? So simple you can do it one-handed with the little slider thingamajig.
I mean, listen to Calvin. It must be easy. “My test for the interface of this game,” he taunts, “was seeing if I could play with one thumb while lying on the couch and watching ’30 Rock’ reruns.”
Sure, Calvin. Sure.
He even makes it look easy.
I mean, how hard could it be? It’s not electromagnetic theory or anything. Oh wait.
Besides, who can resist that startup screen? That’s right. Not me.
So, I plunked down my $0.99 and spent the next half-hour mucking around, trying to get my ion to obey my commands. And then I start muttering. But I kept playing. And I kept muttering. And so on.
Well, suffice it to say, I’m going to be requesting a “scream obscenities into your iPhone” feature that causes the ion to self-destruct. Or some kind of super electromagnetic get out of jail free robot. Or something.
But as frustrated as I got, I couldn’t put it down. And that’s why Ion Charge wins.