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For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Photo finished

Product: Piclings | Developer: PAN Vision | Publisher: Fabrication Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Piclings iPhone, thumbnail 1
Ever since Infinity Blade danced onto iPhone and wowed the world with its graphical grunt, so the press has been keen to talk up the power behind the portable in our pockets.

The day is coming, so they tell us, when phones will be able to deliver picture-perfect visuals. That day is already here.

Well, at least on the 'picture' front. Piclings, as its name suggests, is a platformer focused on your iPhone's library of snaps, taking your average photo of a day out or, if you're anything like me, your extensive collection of milk bottle tops and turning it into a platform level alive with detail.

At least, that's the plan.

Familiar feeling

Piclings's very reliance on the photos you feed into it ultimately brings about its downfall.

The problem is, aside from said pictures the foundations holding up Piclings's play are rather soft. The game's take on the platformer is too simple, tasking you with guiding a strange blue blob dubbed Picazzo around levels decorated with coins.

Picking up all the coins is naturally your ultimate aim, although they're firmly defended by a collection of enemies – Huffles, who follow you around like bees to honey, and Puffles, who trace the various contours of the level at hand.

Apart from moments of invincibility gained by picking up butterflies dotted around the place, you're entirely vulnerable and weaponless. The only way to nullify the threat of the Huffles is to cause them to bump into each other as they magnitise towards your position.

Lack of control

This is far easier said than done, if only because the controls Piclings employs leave a lot to be desired.

The principles are simple enough: a virtual thumbstick appears on the screen wherever you make contact, allowing you to guide Picazzo – who can fly for short distances – in any direction you choose.

You can also drop down from one platform to the next by simply by tapping the screen, the combination of which grants Piclings much needed distinction from the typical run-and-jump approach.

But steering Picazzo is ridiculously tricky because his movement is far too slow and loose. It's impossible to bring any refinement to his travels, and it's all too easy to make contact with your foe one too many times and find yourself withdrawn from the field.

Slack controls, however, aren't Piclings's main problem. Instead, what really undermines play is the fact that your photos rarely translate well to good level design.

What a picture?

Their actual implementation is rather impressive, with the game creating solid in-game surfaces from the forms depicted in your photos and decorating the levels that result with coins and enemies appropriately. You can even edit levels before they're finalised, correcting any mistakes.

Piclings is undoubtedly inventive, and it deserves the attention it's had and will get, but there's no escaping the fact that it's missing a couple of gaming fundamentals. Without real level design or a unifying theme, the whole affair sadly falls apart when it comes to actual gameplay.
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 10 May 2011
With an over-reliance on what ultimately proves to be a gimmick, Piclings platform play is all looks and no substance
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