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For: iPhone

Love will tear us apart

Product: Tipoli | Developer: Divide by Zero | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Tipoli iPhone, thumbnail 1
I'm not sure how much truth there is in it, but it's always said that opposites attract. If that's something we truly believe, then you have to wonder why almost every single dating site out there constantly tries to match up people with identical interests.

I doubt Match.com would pair a personal trainer with a sumo wrestler or portly pastry chef.

Despite such doubts, however, Tipoli subscribes to said romantic notion, the game portraying a relationship between two very different balls.

Attached throughout, one ball bounces off all surfaces, conveying its enthusiasm for his other half, whereas the other sticks to almost anything it touches. Its constant frown suggests it isn't very happy with the partnership.

Anchors away

The game is about making sure your two spherical sweethearts get to the end of each level, which is marked by a massive throbbing heart. Stages are strikingly sparse, the focus instead poured on how the two balls move around each 2D environment.

The concept is an especially simple one, one ball almost acting as an anchor, the other swinging around it. Your only input is to switch their positions, a tap of the screen swapping their places instantly, with the idea being to switch the two just before the bouncing ball swings towards the ground.

Do it too early and both balls lose their connection to the floor, sending them flying into the air and - assuming they don't crash land on another surface somewhere - ending the level. Get it right, and you see the two move around, taking step after step in a fashion that resembles a slinky worming down a set of stairs.

Sticky tricky

Working out how to reach the end goal using this sort of movement is easier said than done and takes a whole heap of concentration. Varying surfaces and other interactive elements change the way you navigate through each stage.

Rotating circles and gusting winds obviously demand extra skill and attention. The sticky ball can't adhere to blue walls, for instance, instead losing all grip and swinging off into the sky.

It's far from easy and often a case of experimentation. Failed attempts trigger a solution that can be attempted on the next run through, at least. While such difficulty is to be welcomed, the question of just whether the process of playing it is in any way fun or entertaining is up for debate.

Bad romance

Tipoli is so sparse, so focused in its design, that simply strolling around its stages is the only stimulation on offer. While that challenges the little grey cells, it doesn't make them dance.

One early level, for instance, teaches you how to use clouds. Sticking to one causes it to rise, taking you with it. However, the level consists of just that - around a minute of sticking to one, lone cloud as it scales the entire length of a level, all without any help from you.

To a certain extent, whether Tipoli - with a name that makes it sound like a quaint Italian village - will charm you is a matter of conjecture, but there's evidence enough to suggest that its design isn't all it could be.

By creating a world with few borders, gameplay feels similarly loose and ungrounded. While the control method and movement are both elements that stand up to scrutiny, the world they reside in won't sweep you off your feet.
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 10 January 2010
Tipoli is an original concept for a puzzler, though it isn't entirely successful, let down ever-so-slightly by levels that are more a chore than charming
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