Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
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Some games simply demand a theme, something to unify all of the disparate elements in the game's design. Sometimes, though, there are games with superfluous themes - games where the theme gets in the way of the pure enjoyment of play. Circuloid falls squarely between these two extremes.
There is a theme behind Circuloid, but it is wafer-thin. You are John Circuloid, an agent charged with "eliminating deadly objects" using cutting-edge technology. What this means, in real-world terms, is that you have to bounce a ball to destroy a wall of bricks, a la Arkanoid. See what I mean about superfluous theming?
To be fair, developer Macoscope does a good job setting up the theme. The opening splash page for the game shows a dossier-style interface, complete with a pager that texts your orders to you. The small animations are well-designed, but they clash with the style and substance of the game itself. Once you accept your mission, you are taken to a high-tech futuristic screen where you play the game. I just had a hard time jiving this with the "coffee stains on paper dossier" intro screen.
Gameplay is a novel take on the tried-and-true Arkanoid format - except in this case paddles are available in a circular formation around a group of blocks. Using your fingers, you turn the circle of paddles to make sure you always keep the ball bouncing off of the blocks in the center of the screen. Certain blocks release power-ups, and catching those while also keeping the main ball in play is a real challenge.
Make no mistake; this is no easy game. Working in a 360 degree playing field is not simple, and I often found myself struggling during even the earliest levels.
Graphics and sound effects are decent, and the developers recommend playing with headphones on in order to get the most from the auditory experience of the game. I second this recommendation, as the sound work in Circuloid is much more sophisticated than you might think from listening to just the built-in iPad speakers.
In the end, if you like Arkanoid-style games and are ready for something new and more than a little challenging, you're sure to like Circuloid; just don't pay much attention to the theme.