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For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Chip-tune off the old block

Product: Arranger | Developer: Arman Bohn | Publisher: Ayopa Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Music/ Rhythm, Party/ mini- games, Retro | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Arranger iPhone, thumbnail 1
The story of Arranger's genesis is a fascinating one, as you'll no doubt be aware if you've already read our interview with its creator Arman Bohn.

A musician by trade, Bohn is best known for his solo material and his role in the band Eureka Farm. He's now turned his talents to coding, and Arranger is the first of his efforts.

Part RPG, part mini-game compilation, part traditional adventure title, Arranger very nearly defies definition. It's a retro-themed amalgamation of many different inspirations and styles, all of which are tied up with the notion of creating music to soothe the ills of a troubled world - in this case, the planet Musica.

Sent on a quest to unite the eight warring nations of Musica by the king himself, you take on the role of a yellow block who has an uncanny sense of rhythm.

You can explore the gameworld in time-honoured Zelda fashion, although actually getting around is more irksome than it should be, thanks largely to a dismal control system. The touch-based controls rarely work, and the alternative on-screen D-pad is similarly awkward.

Music is my radar

It's in these moments that Bohn perhaps displays his inexperience when it comes to game design, but elsewhere the unique ideas prove that he's actually quite versed in the ins and outs of interactive entertainment.

Mini-games such as leaping over logs, directing a cannon by changing the position of deflection panels, and a boxing match where you have to watch for the perfect moment to make your strike are just three examples. The game is packed with other offerings to play at your leisure once you've unlocked them within the main adventure.

In-between these bite-sized challenges you'll find some old skool adventuring is afoot. Various items are dotted around the landscape, and you need to hand them to just the right person in order to advance the quest.

Your ultimate objective is to reclaim eight chalices and bring them to the king, but it's rarely as easy as stumbling across one out in the open. You'll need to solve puzzles, placate non-player characters, and unlock previously barred pathways to achieve your goal.

You'll also have to engage characters in a bizarre shooter segment, where you select three instruments and then use the notes they generate to tickle the part of the brain that's responsive to aural stimulation. It's unquestionably odd, but in a surprisingly endearing way.

I am the music man

Arranger is certainly an inventive and unusual video game, and the fact that you never know what the next screen is going to bring makes it almost irresistible. The puzzles are genuinely tricky, too, ensuring a stern cerebral workout.

It's just a shame that the vision of the developer is limited by the dreadful controls. Some portions of the game call for quick and accurate directional movement, which is frustratingly out of reach thanks to the fact that both control methods are near-useless.

It's also clear that the rather deranged art-style isn't going to be to everyone's tastes, although the fantastic chip-tune soundtrack should smooth over that particular complaint - it's simply wonderful.

While Arranger doesn't quite become the iOS classic it may have promised to be, it's still worth a look - especially if you have a soft spot for retro adventures and games which steadfastly refuse to play by the rules.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 19 November 2012
A melting pot of ideas and abstract concepts, Arranger is sure to appeal to those looking for something a little different on their iOS device. It's just a shame that its zany genius is curbed slightly by some poor controls
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