Sometimes it seems as if iPhone app games can be firmly planted in one of very few categories, as if they all follow the same template but with a little twist. This, however, is the first time I’ve played a game that I can honestly say is unlike any other I’ve played before.
When you begin, a blue screen covers a beautiful nature picture, barely visible at the edges like a frame. The tiny white diamond shaped “Stix” bubble is you, speeding along the border of the blue screen. And inside the screen is a “Sqix”, which…well, scroll down to see the images. It’s like a spindly fluorescent jellyfish that undulates randomly around the blue screen. (Check out the video demo, you’ll see.)
With a swipe, you can reverse your Stix course, or set him on a new path in the blue screen (Sqix territory), which leaves a white line in his wake. When both ends of the line connect with part of the border, the section the Sqix isn’t in is removed, increasing your territory and revealing part of the picture.
Trap the Sqix in as small a place as you can manage. The percentage of territory you’ve succeeded in stealing is tracked at the top. If you touch him, touch your own white line, or if he touches the white line before you’re safe on the border, you’re dead.
Sound strange? It is, and that’s only the beginning. What I really appreciate about this game is that rather than offer a full tutorial, you receive simple instructions then play one level. When you’ve succeeded, another quick explanation of a new element is given, and the next level is just a bit more difficult.
For example, a little green dot begins roaming the boarder with you, but faster. Running into him ends your life. Your best bet then is to kill him first by cutting off a section while he’s on the border. In later levels, new features are added, like bonus boxes to grab in Sqix territory, as well as land mines to avoid. All the while, you have to trap the trippy Sqix monster and try to get as much territory as possible.
If all this was presented up front, I’m not sure if I would have given Sparkz a chance. But I like how I was eased into the game with helpful tips. Plus it’s just hypnotic, like an 80’s arcade game. If you’re looking for something a little different, I’d recommend checking this one out.
Sparkz requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later and is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch.