App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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With "the big oil pipe" in shambles and a-bubblin' crude spilling out all over the land, the only hope for a clean tomorrow lies in the gaping maws of massive oil-eating beasts. Each of these gargantuan monsters will happily eat their fill, but first the oil has to reach them. Thanks to their immobility, players will have to utilize fans, magnets, pinwheels and more in order to get the goopy black stuff to the right spot.
Feed Me Oil uses a fairly standard system of progression: play through a group of levels, unlock new levels after completing the current group, gain stars (1 to 3) based on performance then unlock a few bonus levels by acquiring a set number of stars. It's become somewhat of an App Store staple at this point, not that there's anything wrong with that. Thankfully the stars earned for completing a level correlate with the amount of gadgets used (or not used in this case), as opposed to time taken. It goes a long way to making the inevitable trial-and-error attempts at earning three stars as painless as it can be.
It looks good, obviously, and it sounds good aside from a few repetitive tracks, but more importantly it plays great. The general concept may not be totally unique, but the use of oil in lieu of boxes, autonomous beings or whatever else sure makes it feel that way. The sticky substance is thicker and heavier than water, and has a tendency to cling together. It makes the occasional dry run to test its reactions to different objects essential, but there's no penalty for failed attempts so it's never really an issue.
Aside from the usual desire for "more levels," there's only one real issue I have with Feed Me Oil: the occasionally problematic controls. They work just fine for the most part, but they do have a tendency to spin an object when dragging was the intention and vice-versa. Placing some too close together can also lead to the inability to select the desired object but deselecting everything (via tapping an empty space on the screen) makes it much easier. Of course, since the entire game is played at a leisurely pace and nothing starts functioning until the pipe is turned on these problems have zero impact on one's ability to get a good score. They just make the setting up phase take a little longer, sometimes.
It doesn't create a new puzzle genre and to the untrained eye it could be mistaken for another game that's already been around for a while. That doesn't matter because it's cute, fun, easy to get into, inexpensive and (according to Chillingo) will be getting even more levels in future updates. Solving ecological disasters has never been so entertainingly surreal.