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Comprehensive Reviews

Saturday Specials: The Bottom Line Edition

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Okay, once again I’m a couple of days late, and I’m still not covering the topic that I was supposed to.  I really will get that topic covered next week, because the poor developers were gracious enough to give me three titles to review for it.  Anyway, on to this week’s actual topic.  For this edition of Specials I’m looking at two games that take a different approach to the game of Simon.  Instead of simple pattern memorization, these games use gesture memorization to create fun and quite challenging games.  Both are fairly minimalist in design, but I think that’s part of what makes them work.  Without further ado, let’s get into “fun with lines…”

White Lines

They're White... And They're Lines

They're White... And They're Lines

The first of the two games has a name that pretty much says it all.  This game is about making gestures to recreate lines that you see drawn on the screen.  The game has five levels which range from “Easy” to “Are You Nuts?”, and it basically works like this – Easy level has two gestures per round, and Are You Nuts? has six, with the other difficulty levels falling neatly in between in regards to the number of gestures.  When you start a level you will be presented with a series of lines drawn on the screen, and when the drawing is complete you must recreate each line on the screen by dragging your finger.

After you get so many sequences right you’ll progress to the next difficulty level.  If you get one wrong, you get one more chance to try the sequence.  If you get it wrong again it’s game over.  It seems simple enough, and I can start at Easy and make it about half way through Difficult before losing, but so far I don’t think I’ve gotten one sequence right on Are You Nuts?  The most frustrating part is that you never know what exactly you did wrong, and there were several times that I’m sure I followed the right sequence.  I understand that showing you your errors would defeat the purpose of a second chance, however.  The game is OpenFeint  enabled, and besides Leader Boards there are 15 achievements you can strive for.

Everything about the aesthetics is minimal, yet it just works.  The background is black, and the lines look like strokes of white paint.  The way they fade out looks really cool.  The only sound effects are when you complete a sequence correctly or flub it up, and the completion tone actually blends in with the music in a nifty way.  The music is simple and soothing, which suits the game quite well.

I don’t get much into the pattern memorization type games, but the whole concept of remembering direction of movement adds a unique element that actually makes the concept interesting.  It also makes it harder in my opinion, because I can certainly get a lot more than six colors in a Simon clone before I start flubbing up.  Guess I need to brush up on my gesture recall.

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link

Electron Zero

Red Is The Color...

Red Is The Color...

Electron Zero is like White Lines on steroids.  It uses the same concept of mimicking gestures, but also throws back in the incremental progression techniques that Simon uses.  In other words, not only do you have to remember which way to draw the lines, you have to remember an increasingly complicated set of lines per turn – first one line, then two, then three, etc.  From a logistical standpoint this is probably better for learning how to memorize something, but from the standpoint of just trying to have fun, I like the idea of having a set number of gestures per turn much better.  For some reason I actually find it easier to memorize a set number of unique gestures each time than to try and memorize an ever growing sequence of gestures even though I may have repeated the initial part of the sequence 10 or 20 times in a row.

Electron Zero only has four levels ranging from Easy to something a lot harder than easy.  Unfortunately each level is locked until you get a certain number of points on the previous level, and that number of points is in a single game, not a cumulative over the course of playing.  To unlock the next level above easy you need 5000 points, and so far my high score is just above 1300.  Again, I like how White Lines handles the difficulty levels better, because at least in that game I can experience all of them right from the get go, even if I do horribly at the more challenging levels.  In Electron Zero I’ll probably never see the most difficult level.  The game uses ScoreLoop for high scores, and while I think I have an account on that service it’s not one I frequent, so I didn’t mess with it for Electron Zero.

Much like White Lines, Electron Zero is fairly minimalist in the aesthetics department.  However, of the two it’s a bit more visually appealing.  The background is still black, but it has a cool circuit board like blue print overlaying the black backdrop.  The initial electron trail that you must mimic is a nice red flow, and the line you draw is blue, and the quicker you draw it the more smoothly it gets rendered.  The audio is not great.  The sound effects are a series of drawn out beeps that actually get more annoying the faster you are at drawing the lines.  There is no music, and while I’m not sure how music would work against the sound effects, the game really seems kind of empty in regards to audio.

I think for someone who’s a little better a rapid memorization, Electron Zero would probably be the more enjoyable game out of the two choices.  Unfortunately, I’m not one of those kinds of people, and in order to get any kind of reasonable score you have to retrace the actions so quickly that I can’t keep up with it.  It was an interesting game to try, but White Lines is a bit more my speed.

Final Verdict: On The Fence
App Store Link

Well here we are, almost to the middle of the week, and I’m finally getting last week’s Saturday Specials posted.  Anyway, for you memory game junkies out there, I hope this has given you a couple more choices to consider (if you don’t already have them).  This coming Saturday – and if at all possible it will actually BE on Saturday – I’ll be bringing to you some insight into the interesting world of the Chop Chop universe.  Don’t miss it!

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