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For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Gnome alone

Product: Emberwind | Developer: TimeTrap | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Emberwind iPhone, thumbnail 1
In a movement the Pocket Gamer team heartily approves of, many iOS developers seem to have taken it upon themselves to recreate the Amiga / Atari ST era (see Manomio for further details), crafting remakes of 16-bit titles and games which look for all the world like they were around at the time.

Emberwind is actually a port of a recent indie PC platformer, but if you squint a bit (and maybe pretend the graphics are a bit more pixellated), you could imagine it happily sitting alongside The Lost Vikings, James Pond, or Chuck Rock.

Getting on your Wick

In Emberwind, you play as a gnome named Kindle, who has to rescue villages from an invasion of small gremlins.

The object of most levels is simply to locate a number of houses and flush out the nasties, before returning to your owl steed, Wick, at the beginning of the stage.

The story is so forgettable it’s likely most players will perform this task without any clue as to their motivation, but suffice it to say these annoying critters are allergic to light.

Reach the fire in the centre of each house and light it and every gremlin within the four walls will disintegrate.

On the way to the houses, you’ll encounter plenty of similarly diminutive baddies, which you can whack with your gnomic staff.

Acorn antics

Explore the levels more thoroughly and you can collect gems and golden acorns, which often leave a trail to other secrets.

Elsewhere, you’ll find scrolls which afford Kindle more advanced skills, like a Sonic-esque dash and barrel roll, or a rocket jump that results in our prodigiously bearded hero hiding under his oversized hat before leaping for the skies.

Yet in the main, these skills are rarely required, merely designed to make getting from A to B easier. In fact, their introduction complicates a control scheme that doesn’t really seem a perfect fit for the format – at least in the way it’s implemented here.


Quite simply, the onscreen D-pad isn’t up to snuff. Try to walk without once accidentally activating the 'hide' skill and you'll see what we mean. The buttons are too small and occasionally seem unresponsive.

The challenge is rarely exacting enough to be a major issue, and checkpoints are sufficiently frequent that deaths are but a brief inconvenience. Some secrets, however, that require more precision platforming will take serious patience to reach.

Besides the control foibles, Emberwind’s main problem is that it’s never particularly interesting. It looks beautiful and sounds great – even given that some of the themes are unusually bagpipe-heavy – but every level feels identical to the last.

Sky plus

Even the introduction of boss stages and bonus flying sections aboard Wick fail to add much excitement.

The boss battles – which adopt a curious tug-of-war approach – are among the highlights, but their challenge is borne more of the awkward controls than of any particularly fiendish design.

The old-fashioned aesthetic might bring about a fuzzy, nostalgic glow, but a few levels wrestling with the controls and completing the same task time and time again will probably be enough for most to turn off before the end.
Reviewer photo
Chris Schilling | 10 August 2011
Emberwind is a tough game to dislike, but equally it will probably have few admirers
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