Based on a popular free online game called Gimme Friction Baby by Wouter Visser, Orbital is a highly addictive arcade-style puzzle game. The developer, Bitforge, describes the game as a “one-thumb experience” – a game that proves to be easy to pick-up and play but devilishly hard to master.
The concept from the original game still remains the same in Orbital – you control a cannon which fires “orbs” into a playing field. The orbs have a limited amount of power behind them and quickly run out of steam. Once the orb stops, it will expand outwards until it reaches an obstacle like a wall or another orb. But if it expands across the “death line” at the bottom of the playing field it’s game over – so you have to be very strategic with your shots. Each of the orbs initially contains the number 3, but every time it’s involved in a collision this number reduces by one. When you reach zero the orb disappears and you score a point.
There are two different game modes in Orbital: Pure and Gravity. Pure is the “classic” style of play and features standard pinball physics – the orbs bounce off objects in exactly the manner you’d expect, and is decidedly the more difficult of the two modes. Gravity mode is a great addition to the game and is very similar to Pure except that each orb exerts its own gravitational force – and the larger the orb, the larger the force. This greatly influences the trajectory of your orbs leaving the cannon – it makes it easier to score points due to collisions and protects you somewhat from an orb rebounding unfavorably and crossing the “death line”.
The beauty of Orbital is really in it’s simplicity of play. You don’t need to tackle a maze of menus and options before you can jump straight into the action. You just choose your game type and go. And despite it’s simplicity, it’s incredibly addictive and very challenging. I find myself continually saying “just one more time…”.
There are other games on the iPhone with a similar game mechanic – Xpandaballs for one, but Orbital is sexier as well as more complex. Orbital is a great looking game, with beautiful particle effects, attractive menus and fitting music. There’s local as well as global high-scores, as well as the ability to post your score to Facebook.
Bottom Line: Addictive gameplay, great graphics and huge replayability factor. Well worth a look.
Orbital requires the iPhone OS 2.2 or later and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPod Touch.