Ever since I noticed that Pocket Mini Golf 2 had been released on the iPhone I wondered “where’s Meltdown?” After all, while Pocket Mini Golf 2 was a good game on the PocketPC, Meltdown had the perfect control scheme for an iPhone game – one button that controls everything. Not to mention the fact that the game is just a whole lot of fun. Thankfully they must have finally read my mind (though it certainly took them long enough), and now we have Meltdown for the only mobile platform I currently play with any regularity. And you know what? It’s just as fun as I remember it from my PocketPC days.
In Meltdown you play Emgee, a maintenance droid for nuclear power plants. Your job is to travel through a series of plants, deactivating each of 5 reactors within a given plant to ensure that the plant doesn’t go into meltdown. To deactivate a reactor you must press all the red switches that exist in the reactor. The task is simple, but the execution can certainly prove to be a challenge. Each level is timed, and your only respite to the timer are cooling rods that you pick up in some levels, though these rods only add 5 seconds to your time. You also earn a rod for each reactor you successfully shut down in a plant, and these rods can be used in subsequent plants. Rods found within a level can be used in the plant you’re currently working on. The down to the rods is that they are automatically used when your time runs out, so if you’re on a level you know you aren’t going to complete anyway – too bad. That’s one caveat I wish they would have changed from the PocketPC version.
Besides the time limit, timing plays a major factor in Meltdown. Emgee is in constant motion, and the only thing that can change his direction is colliding with something. While you can’t directly affect his left / right movement, you can provide him with some upward mobility. Emgee can jump, and when he’s already in the air he can use a jetpack to get some additional lift. Both of these actions are initiated by pressing the screen, and the longer you hold the more powerful each action becomes. Keep in mind that the jetpack can only be activated while you’re in the air, however, so if you start the meter with the intention of using the jetpack but don’t let go until Emgee touches the ground, you’ll simply jump instead. It’s also important to remember that just because you can fill the meter, it doesn’t mean you should. Learning how to judge jumping / jetpack strength will be key to solving a lot of these levels.
You didn’t think that would be all that’s standing in your way, did you? In the beginning you can flip the red switches in any order you want. As you get further along in the game, however, you must start flipping switches in a particular order. Additionally, there are electric barriers that must be deactivated, pools of reactor coolant that must be jumped, and nuclear gremlins that can’t wait to take a byte out of your circuitry (sorry, had to be punny there). It certainly won’t be a breeze walking through some of the later levels in this game, but what fun is a game without any challenge, right?
Meltdown has very nice graphics if you look in the background. The foreground layer is actually kind of blah, but there are some nice details in the parallax levels scrolling behind you. Emgee himself is pretty cool looking, and I still think he’d make a great mascot. The nuclear gremlins aren’t too shabby either. The sound effects compliment the atmosphere perfectly. I especially like the voice of Emgee, though I wish he’d say more. The music has a nice rock beat to it which fits perfectly with the frantic pace of the game.
I was happy to see Meltdown finally get ported to the iPhone, and I’m not disappointed at all by the translation after having spent some time with it. There’s plenty of challenge as you progress through the plants, and it amazes me how they can make such a playable game with basically one button for control. There are two difficulty settings that determine how many reactors you must deactivate to save a plant, and Crystal integration gives you a bunch of nice achievements to work towards. Meltdown is certainly worth adding to your iPhone collection.