App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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"Maybe just one more round..." This is the chorus that constantly runs through your head when you are in the grips of iOS game addiction. Though there are many games on the platform that have accomplished this very feat, recently these successes have seemed few and far between. Fresh off of successfully being selected to participate in IndieCade 2012, the new game Catch-22 looks to hopefully strike a similar chord, while still delivering a gameplay experience unlike anything you've seen before.
The key to making something addictive is to have a simple game mechanic that becomes more complex over time. Ironically, in Catch-22 the player is actually the one that makes the game more difficult for themselves. Don't worry if that doesn't make sense, because we will get back to that in a second. A blue and green marble revolve around a larger central planet, rotating in opposite directions around the axis. These two glass globes must not collide, at risk of imminent failure. In addition, there are several much smaller marbles that also encircle the central planet at a higher altitude. The idea is that the player presses on the screen to make either the blue or green marble jump, gathering these smaller marbles in the process. Once all of these have been cleared, the control will shift back and forth between the blue and green orbs.
Players might notice that there is a vapor trail of sorts that is left behind by each of the marbles, designating where it had been on the last full rotation. This is where the "making things difficult for yourself" referenced earlier comes into play. When control shifts between orbs, the one that is abandoned continues to follow the track that was is defined by the vapor trail. Therefore, the more jumping that you do means the more dodging that is necessary to avoid collisions during the next round. While it may not sound all that challenging, trust us when we say that things can get hectic in a hurry.
Skilled players can take advantage of a reset of sorts, should the timing prove to be fortuitous. During the brief split second while the next round's marbles are being respawned and control shifts between green and blue, it is possible for these orbs to collide, which will in turn switch the direction of rotation, effectively clearing out both vapor trails. Though this is hard to pull off, it can be a much needed chance for respite before things get crazy again.
Featuring a zen-like soundtrack and single play sessions that could last for as little as a few seconds or as long as minutes, depending upon skill level, Catch-22 is one of the most intriguing and infectiously fun games to hit iOS in quite some time. Blending together equal parts simplicity and self-induced complexity, the game is an ideal fit on the platform. Don't even bother to debate this ninety nine cent purchase. It should become a mandatory staple of your collection as soon as possible.