Developer: Etter Studio
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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The idea of boiling down something as complicated and scary as nuclear physics into a minimalist, indie arcade game sounds crazy. Etter Studios has seemingly pulled it off, though, with EMC. Non-physics majors may not be able to appreciate the accuracy of the science but they should still have fun playing this simple little gem.
Figuring out what to do is easy. Players tilt their device to move a white circle in the center of a black field. Meanwhile, another white circle as well as multicolored triangles are moving across the screen at will. The player's job is to use their circle to collect the other one while avoiding the game-ending triangles. Once the circles touch tapping the screen will release an explosion, push back the triangles, give the player a point, and spawn another circle therefore repeating the process. It's a score attack game and nothing more but frantically tilting one's way out of death only to scrape by with a board-clearing explosion combines desperate survival with player empowerment in a way only this style of game can.
That's all well and good but what about the science? The visuals are abstract and the music is trippy in a good way that recalls stark science-fiction but that's not science. Those wanting a more detailed explanation can visit the developer website but the gist of it is that collecting white circles and triggering explosions represent electrons collecting photons to leap into new quantum states. It's really interesting to see how well actual science can match up with video game mechanics.
Even without being aware of its scientific inspiration, EMC is still a fun little game with a satisfying hook. It's the kind of time-waster perfectly suited for iPads and iPhones. EMC is a successful experiment.