To coin a phrase, I’d call the genre of games created by the introduction of Flight Control “directional frenzy puzzlers.” There have been many variations of this now classic idea (the direction of moving objects around each other to a specified goal without any collisions) but I have to admit, City Traffic HD, by Blue Onion Soft, for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, is easily one of the best I’ve seen.
Though the primary gameplay mechanic of City Traffic HD is similar to several other iPhone app titles in the App Store (most notably Flight Control) I almost certainly prefer it to any other game in the genre. The idea is simple: You float above a city street like an empowered traffic camera, zipping cars along the road by flicking them with a finger or stopping them dead with a tap. This sounds simple, but is maddeningly difficult—and extremely fun—in practice.
There are four available traffic maps, each with a unique twist to make your job harder. For example, Paris features the quintessential roundabout, which all incoming vehicles must be routed around. Beijing is perhaps my favorite, with turning lanes that must be remembered as the player zooms bikes, cars, and trucks along, or horrendous (and interesting) crashes will occur. The goal of all this is to see how many cars the player can pass through the map before a crash happens—if you’re like me, this isn’t a very high number. As the level progresses, more vehicles appear, and as you cannot change a driver’s course, it’s incredibly difficult to manage them all without sending fingers and limbs flailing across the iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch, as this is a universal offering).
For all its difficulty, though, there’s no goal beyond unlocking all four maps, so the game won’t guilt-trip you for failing to direct traffic like a pro. The emphasis is solidly on fun, as it should be.
Graphics and Sound
I have to commend Blue Onion Soft for their efforts with this iPhone and iPad app: City Traffic HD looks gorgeous on the iPad’s larger screen. Colors pop, and the menus, sprites, pop-ups, and levels are all well-designed and a joy to behold. Likewise, the music is peppy, and the sound-effects perfectly match the pastel, laid-back design of the game. The game also looks fantastic on the iPhone 4 retina display.
Overall Value and Fun Factor [Rating 5/5]
I had a tremendous time playing City Traffic HD. I have not been a fan of directional frenzy puzzlers, as I’ve deemed them, but the game has drastically changed my mind. City Traffic HD’s limited-time only price of $ .99 makes this universal app a steal, and combined with the vast amount of replay value—as well as Game Center functionality—one could easily spend whole days simply directing traffic.
City Traffic HD [ iTunes Link ] requires iOS 3.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.
The iPhone app review rating: