Developer: Steph Thirion
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

There’s a reason why this game was nominated for an IGF Award – the mix of retro art flare, innovative gameplay, and controls that were obviously built specifically for the iPhone make Eliss an exciting benchmark for iPhone gaming as a whole.

Describing what Eliss is, on the other hand, can be somewhat cumbersome. Perhaps it’s best to let the developer’s own words fill us in:

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“Eliss is a revolutionary multi-touch game. Your job is to keep up harmony in an odd universe made of blendable planets. Touch-control multiple planets at once, join them together into giant orbs or split them up into countless dwarf planets, and match their size with the squeesars. Wipe off the stardust, resist to the attraction of the vortex and other space phenomena, and slow down the passage of time. Each of the 20 levels will require creative ways and strategies in using your fingers. Warm up your hands, you’re up for some serious finger gymnastics in the bizarro galaxy.”

Nebulous enough for you? Essentially your job is to place colored spheres that appear on screen into their respective color-matching “containers.” Spheres and containers vary in size, which requires you to split or combine the spheres in order to get them to fit into the containers. If different colored spheres collide, they subtract from your “health” bar at the top. Deplete the bar and your game is over. As the levels progress, play gets more and more hectic as the screen becomes bloated with planets and squeesars. Throw in the vortex that sucks in your planets and you’ve got the makings of a multi-touch finger-sliding bonanza that will have you yelling at your device.

If that still doesn’t help, perhaps a video might:

The entire package of Eliss is a delight. The art design has that retro feel that is not only the flavor of the day, but also fitting to the model of the gameplay. The music fits the design as well, accompanying the throwback 8-bit mood without being annoying and repetitive, which a surprising number of games can’t seem to get right. But the main draw to Eliss is its originality in gameplay, one that is perfectly suited for the iPhone, which has garnered the game a lot of praise and recognition, deservedly so. We hope that developers continue to progress the platform and think outside the box, much as sole designer Steph Thirion has done. If so, the iPhone / iPod Touch may just become the best gaming platform as Apple has boasted.

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