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Developer: Tazoo Company
Price: Free (first 5 levels then $0.99 to unlock full game)
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: new iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Firstly, a clarification. This review is of the iPad version of Cosmica, a scrolling maze game which can boast freshness, fun, and challenge as parts of its quality. The denoted score is not for the iPhone version. While it boasts the same qualities, those qualities are heavily negated by that version being presently borderline unplayable.

More on that later.

Before all that, let’s celebrate the derserving iPad version. It’s a simple enough idea, a top-down scrolling maze game. In Cosmica, however, I have to keep my finger held on the screen at all times, dodging and weaving my way as I automatically move up through the labyrinth. It’s much like how I’d hold down a pen to draw a line through a maze on paper, and it’s that parallel that gives Cosmica an instant click. And yet conversely as an iOS game it feels strangely fresh (or maybe even freshly strange).

There are also little spins on traditional obstacles, things like walls that move from side to side, one-way gates, and some very knotty revolving doors. These spins, alongside the sweeping speed at which the maze scrolls down the screen, force me to stay on my toes (or in this case on my fingernail), especially given how I’m only allowed to make three errors per run. This turns Cosmica into a kind of memory game in which the maze’s specific twists and turns have to be memorized, especially when there are flocks of one-way gates to be negotiated, set out in deliberately confusing, dexterity-heavy ways. It reminds me of Bit.Trip Beat, except it’s not as tricky as that particular gem.

Except, however, on iPhone… and here’s where I lay my beef with that version. The smaller screen means that I need to be far more careful with how steady I keep my finger. That would be OK in and of itself, I don’t mind an especially difficult game that’s still doable, but when you couple it with frequent and often ill-timed stutter and slowdown, it makes for the kind of experience that leads to a smashed up iPhone/wall/fist. Way too infuriating. Maybe some laxity in the form of extra lives would help. Certainly far less pushing of the device’s graphical power – even though it’s top down Cosmica’s pause menu reveals that it’s running in a 3D engine – would do wonders for the iPhone version.

So while I can’t recommend it for iPhones as it is, I definitely recommend checking it out on iPad. If you liked Bit.Trip Beat but wished there were more mazes (and less beats) in it, Cosmica is the game for you.

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