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For: iPhone

As slick as ice

Product: HydroTilt XL | Publisher: Publisher X | Format: iPhone | Genre: 3D, Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
HydroTilt XL iPhone, thumbnail 1
Contrary to the rants of Luddites worldwide, technology aims to make life easier. From toasters to cars to mechanical pencils, technology helps us do things with greater ease.

Yet for every useful advance comes a set of complications. An improperly utilised toaster can burn down a house, a bad driver can wreck a car, and a mechanical pencil can - well, we all know what evils lie in wait there.

That same lesson applies to iPhone games that make use of the device's accelerometer. At best, it makes things easier, and at worst it turns the game into a battle.

Luckily, HydroTilt is a title that is well aware of this fact and, as much as can be expected, combats it. Tilting never takes you by surprise here, and when you consider that play is all about using the accelerometer to guide a blob of water around a set of increasingly complex mazes, that's just as well.

HydroTilt is all about getting a drop of water to an exit post, avoiding the sheer drops that surround every platform and runway.

Oh, and along the way you also have to pick up a trickily placed ice block. Yes, HydroTilt might not come with the most logical narrative, but when you consider that its closest rival features monkeys trapped in glass globes, it's in good company.

Despite the resemblance with Super Monkey Ball, however, it's not all about tipping and tilting – there's also something of a puzzle involved.

That's because some areas of the map - dicey corners and dangerous tangents - can only be accessed when your drop is in a certain state. Just as in real life, water can be frozen or evaporated.

Making use of these three states - solid, liquid, and gas - is key to making through each stage. Various contraptions in each level change your blob's state, with the challenge being to work out in just what order you should switch between the three.

For instance, steam's light touch means it's perfect for zooming over crumbling pathways. On the other hand, the weight of solid ice is required to cross slatted runways that water could slip through or push down on buttons that give access to new areas.

While most of your concentration is focused on balancing your drop so it doesn't tip off the edge and fall into obscurity, you also have to plan ahead so you choose the right route from the start.

Things are further complicated by tantalisingly placed crystals. Picking them up requires going that extra mile to overcome even trickier obstacles, although it's entirely optional. Often situated in separate areas, they can involve major, lengthy detours.

Considering that each level is timed, making a break for that crystal is more than just a question of your ability.

And this is why HydroTilt flourishes. It's not just a case of holding your nerve and keeping your balance on some of the trickiest accelerometer levels you'll ever come across, but it's also a tactical. The self-adjusting difficulty can appeal to any player, and that's a mighty fine balance to strike.
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 7 January 2009
Easy to pick up but difficult to master, HydroTilt perfectly combines accelerometer action with tactical problem solving
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