Home > Apps, Gaming, iPhone, Reviews > Free App Review: vParticle

Free App Review: vParticle

All sorts of trials await you in vParticle

The great thing about the Apple App Store’s gaming selection is that, somewhere in the absurdly large catalog, there’s bound to be something unique that fits your tastes. Take a game like vParticle, for example. You probably won’t ever see a game like this appear on another handheld like the DS or PSP. There are a few reasons for this – apart from the absence of an accelerometer on those consoles (an essential device for vParticle), this title probably wouldn’t get the love it deserves from publishers because of how it goes out of its way to satisfy a very specific niche market.

That market would be the fan of labyrinth games – you know, the kind of game where you have to guide a ball through a maze and into a hole. vParticle not only embraces that concept with a crazy amount of levels, but ups the ante by asking you to guide not only one ball, but fifty. Yes, fifty of these “particles” must be navigated through increasingly complex environments by the tilt of your iPhone. The levels are composed of a series of blocks, each usually with some special attribute. Some blocks move in a set pattern, some only move when you touch them, others appear and disappear when touched, and the like. Other things affect your particles in unique ways – the vents send them flying off in a specific direction, the time boxes slow them down to a crawl, and the acid instantly disintegrates the particles.

When particles are disintegrated or crushed by two blocks, they are sent back to the start of the level, while all the surviving red dots stay where they were at. This of course leads to you having to essentially repeat the level over again in order to get all your particles in the goal box. And yes, you must get ALL of your particles in the goal box to finish the level. It gets frustrating very fast when you have only three or four dots preventing you from finishing the rather lengthy levels, and when one of those three or four gets destroyed and you have to restart AGAIN… you come to my biggest issue with vParticle. I’m all for replayability in my games, but when you have to do the same level over and over again just because of a small handful of stray particles, you’ll be wondering why you’re even bothering to. [EDIT: The developers of vParticle sent me an email to tell me that you actually only need to get half of the particles into the goal (unless you’re playing one of the challenging “X Levels”), and then you can tap on the box to finish the level. I’ve suggested a way for them to make this more obvious in a future update, and you can now know that my opinion of this game has been raised a bit now that I’ve realized it isn’t as annoying as I previously thought.] It doesn’t help that many levels have several spots that require you to wait for a certain block to move out of your way before you can proceed. Patience is absolutely necessary to keep this app open for more than a minute or two on your iPhone.

Getting to that “E” won’t be as easy as it appears… invisible boxes will pop up to complicate the path to the finish

The physics behind the particles are great, but understandably, they don’t feel entirely realistic. If I had 50 red dots in a container in front of me in real life, and I tipped it upside down all of a sudden, I would expect the particles to instantly drop to the other side – faster than I could even tell. In vParticle, there’s a slight delay from when you make a motion and when it actually starts happening. Sure, you can flip your iPhone over and watch them fall, but be prepared for a short pause in which the physics program is figuring out what exactly needs to be done. For such a small independent team, though, they really did an impressive job with how the particles react to the accelerometer. Just to show off their physics, they even included “sandbox” levels, where there’s no goal or way to finish. It’s up to you to have fun moving around the particles in the setting.

If you’re crazy for labyrinth games, I don’t know how you could do any better than vParticle. There are shortcomings, but now that this game is free, (I’d have recommended it even at the $1 price tag before) there’s really no reason to not give it a look if guiding things through mazes interests you. I’ve had it for a while, so I can tell you that updates come regularly. As a result, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect more skins for the stages or (hopefully) a level editor in the future. If you fit the labyrinth-loving niche the developers of vParticle were going after, you’re sure to be entertained by their solid app.

Final Score:

By Josh60502

Categories: Apps, Gaming, iPhone, Reviews Tags: ,
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