App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Amoebattle is one of those games that's hard to pin down through descriptions and screen shots. It's also something of a bother to spell. Anyway, the best way I can think of to describe it is as a sort of RTS without the genre standard base elements and unit production. But while it might be somewhat offbeat, it's also very, very cool.
Seeing as Amoebattle is all about the strategic control of amoebas (obviously), there's little need for factories or other unit-producing structures. Instead, every amoeba can spilt to create a duplicate of itself once it's eaten enough food. The food an amoeba requires depends on its diet (herbivore, carnivore or omnivore), but once it's full it only takes a tap to get it to grow a sibling. Creating new amoeba types is also handled on a unit-to-unit basis, only rather than splitting players can evolve a selected microorganism into one of nine different forms (once they're unlocked). They run the gamy from ranged combatants to defense-heavy tanks, and knowing when and where to put them to use can make a huge difference.
The odd concept of dropping bases and structures in favor of a self-sustaining army is just as cool as it sounds. While player forces are capped by a set amount of energy, making more units or evolving new ones is never a hassle. Everything is handled automatically once the button is pressed, and every selected amoeba (that is also full) will begin to split so long as they don't surpass their limit. In other words, an army can go from ten to twenty with a few seconds and a single tap. Further adding to the strategy is the use of special probes which can be used to gather amoeba-generating energy faster, impede enemy movement, and more.
While I could make a big deal out of Amoebattle's controls scheme being occasionally finicky, it's honestly still pretty impressive. There are several ways to select different units/unit types and program custom groups. It can be somewhat problematic during tense moments, but overall it works really well for what it is. The real problem that I keep running into is the difficulty. Although that's not entirely accurate. It's not that Amoebattle is incredibly hard, it's just that the difficulty spikes are extremely hard to predict and by extension plan for. Getting a warning that a large group of enemies is nice but having no idea where they're coming from, picking the wrong path and getting steamrolled isn't all that fun.
Even though I'm not too fond of the trial-and-error gameplay of the bulk of the stages, there's just too much to love about Amoebattle for me to care. It's a unique spin on a classic genre, and one that's more than worth any interested iOS gamer's time.