With attempts at taking classic concepts and tweaking them to fit with the stereotypical, new age feel of everything around us, many new game designs become lost in translation. Though the ideas behind the supposed improvement may be unique and innovative, the result usually fails to live up to the projected product. But with Shifters by Thumbstar Games, users will find a fun and mildly addictive game that lives up to the potential of its predecessors.
Like their other game, iFlexis, Thumbstar Games offers users a new spin on the notion of block puzzle games. Based on the main goal of eliminating strings of like colored blocks in a row in order to advance, Shifters infuses its 50 levels of silliness with increasing difficulty as you progress and four different modes: Score Mode, Color Hunter, Combo Master and Logic Mode.
When starting up Shifters, users are presented with the main menu on the home screen, featuring buttons to: Start Game, High Scores, Tutorials, Options and About. The function of each button is obvious based on their names, with Tutorials being the most vital as it will tell you all you need to know to excel at playing.
The base tutorial, which comes first under the tutorial selection, does exactly what its name implies – it teaches you the basics. Users are provided with a cursor, which is what they will use to help rotate blocks and move brackets on the screen. Brackets select square sections of four blocks at a time, allowing users to manipulate whichever blocks are within those brackets at the moment. To move the brackets, simply tap outside their current spot with the cursor in order to move to a new set.
Once you’ve decided on a set of blocks, tap the upper left block in order to rotate them. Users must match three blocks to destroy a string. If users destroy links of four or five blocks at once, they will be rewarded with a bonus item in the form of a bomb that will activate when it is rotated, clearing all the surrounding blocks. The arrows icon in the middle of the lower portion of the screen allows users to change which direction the blocks rotate, either clockwise or counterclockwise.
At the beginning of each level, users are told they’re task. If they forget, they may remind themselves by tapping the ‘?’ button in the bottom left corner. You may also monitor your progress with the gauge on the left side of the screen. In the bottom right corner, users will find an icon that, to me, almost resembles home plate. This icon allows you to pause your game, as well as exit to the main menu. Plus, when the perky music begins to wear on your nerves, this button will allow you to turn off the music and sound effects right during game play without having to exit and use the ‘Options’ button on the home screen.
The right side of the screen displays a timer gauge. Though many levels come without a time limit, users must still complete their task in a reasonable amount of time or they will indeed lose, wasting a life and making them start the level all over again. However, the wonderful part is that once a player reaches a given level, they may begin again right at the start of that level, even if they have quit. When tapping ‘Start Game,’ users will then find a list of all the levels they’ve completed so they may choose where they want to start instead of having to return to the beginning.
The puzzle tutorial teaches users how to go about succeeding with its most specialized mode. Here, in a given number of rotations, users must create a specific image with the blocks provided. The ‘?’ icon will remind you of the desired image when tapped, while the source image can be manipulated by rotating blocks on the left side of the screen counterclockwise, and right side blocks clockwise. This mode itself sets Shifters apart from the many other block games currently vying for your attention in the vast world known as the App Store.
Shifters requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer in order to speed up the publication of this review.