Price: $1.99 (On sale for $0.99)
Version Reviewed: 1.02
Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
Imagine a blend between Picross, Sudoku, Jabeh, and Battleship, and you'll end with something vaguely like Battletaire. The game is an excellent, addicting logic puzzle—and I mean it when I say addicting. I mean the kind of addicting where I'll spend an hour glowering at a puzzle, the kind of addicting where just leaving my iPod sitting next to me on my desk has become a hazard to my productivity.
In Battletaire, once you chose to report for duty, you'll find yourself gazing out at an open sea with semi-functional radar and a vague idea of the enemy's location, as represented on a 2-D board. Each row and column on the 10x10 grid has a number next to it; this number represents the number of ship pieces lying in each row. There are a limited number of ships in the enemy fleet—one 4-segment battleship, two 3-segment cruisers, three 2-segment destroyers, and four 1-segment submarines—and the final solution must satisfy both these requirements and those dictated by the numbers on the sides of the board. (Don't worry; there are a few hints available if you need them!)
Once you've got what you believe to be a viable solution, tap "Fire!" and sit back as the ships explode. If you were right, you move on; if not, you'll have to start over. Most levels begin with a few ship segments revealed, and you have hints available to you, too, though those disappear by the final level. The game automatically fills in columns and rows with no ships.
By default, all squares are marked with white question marks on gray backgrounds; tapping once changes them to water, and tapping twice changes them to a ship space. This can sometimes be problematic; if you have larger fingers, you may find the squares hard to pinpoint. Happily, you can pinch and zoom in on the Battletaire map (be prepared for some lag, though). Personally, I found the controls to be intuitive and easy to use; my only wish is the ability to drag across an entire row to change its status.
Battletaire boasts two modes: Drill and Battle. In Drill Mode, you fight an endless string of battles at one difficulty level of your choice. In Battle Mode, you begin as a lowly Seaman and work your way up, with battles progressively becoming more difficult; finally, you reach the Fleet Admiral rank. Should you beat Fleet Admiral, make sure to take a screencap before pressing "Fire," because the developer will post your record on his website, along with your screenshots as proof! (I'm proud to say that I am the second fleet admiral to have reported back.)
Battletaire's main flaw is its presentation. It's not an ugly game, but the graphics are flat and 2D; there's no glitter or glam here. Also, there's no soundtrack, and just a few simple sound effects, which can thankfully be turned off in the settings. Personally, I don't mind; Battletaire's brilliance is in its basic gameplay. You won't find worthless gilt in Battletaire. Meanwhile, the naval theme is nicely executed, and the names of the levels are a nice touch.
I've always had a soft spot for long-strung logic games, especially those that take a while to solve. While you can play an easy round in a few minutes once you get the hang of the game, it'll require much more thought to figure out the solution at higher difficulties. Fun and challenging—isn't that what every puzzle game aspires to be? If you like tough-but-rewarding, then go for Battletaire. Oh, and make sure that you don't mind losing sleep because, ah, well—sometimes you just have to crush that pesky naval opposition, right?