Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:5/5]
Game Controls [rating:5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
Harbor Master is in the style of (once again) Flight Control. We all know that when a game becomes that popular, there are sure to be clones and others who try to walk the same line. Usually they are poor imitations, or substandard games pushed out to try to get on the bandwagon. Also, many are just not fun, trying to capture an 'essence' of a popular game is just a difficult thing to do. There can be so many factors contributing to its success, and a set formulae can be hard to define.
Well this game is actually the best competitor I have seen. It has officially taken me away from the 'highscores hell' that has become Flight Control and I am now trying to be the best Harbor Master in the universe!
This app is essentially a game of trying to unload the containers (cargo) on different types of ships. You guide the ship to the port, wait for it to unload the cargo, then have to take it back out of the port, and guide another in.
This game is good is because of that extra dimension of having to unload... it really adds to the pace of the game. Your concentration levels really have to be sharp so you safely divert one out as other ships wait for a free port. Also, there are 2 color ships, blue and orange, and the colors have to be docked at the correct color docks. There are 3 levels to unlock, unlocking though was actually a bit too simple and I did it on my first or second go, this could have been slightly harder challenge, but is a minor point.
The three maps are:
Map 1 Cyclone Island. This is a central docking station with chances for a cyclone to hit any where any time during game play. This is a nice map to play because it really is a chance that at any time it could all go wrong with that 'oh so dangerous' cyclone threat.
Map 2 Fishing Bay. This is a typical shore situation. There are two docks, one for each color ship and you guide them in and out quite easily. This is a great level to practice on.
Lastly, Map 3 Sturgeon Creek. I love this level. A lot. This map is basically double of what we play on map 2, fishing bay. You have docks on both sides and again you have 2 colored cargo ships to dock. This level is where I have been living the last few days of my life. Ironically I have only achieved a high score of 122 (so far) even after hours of game play. Surprisingly having not been able to better my score, I still haven't felt bored or frustrated as you can on some games where you seem to not be able to top a high score.
Each map screen when you select it, has some basic stats for you which is nice. It shows your skill level for that map, best shift, how many shifts worked, and the number of cargo received.
Sound on the game really needs to be on as you play to be more successful. There are sound clues when there are two ships too close to each other, you are notified by a proximity beep alert. Also the sound of diverting off the screen or to successful docking are good so you know you have set the course for that ship and can get on with other ships. And liked the big horn noise of the large container ships as they were coming into port, it was really fun! Also the general in game music was sweet and I liked it being on.
You can pause in game if needed (again a feature every game should have), and from the pause screen you can go to a different map too which I thought was great. (Oh- but if you do go to a different map, you lose that game you were playing!)
Only negatives really would be maybe to add another ship type, there are 3 types of ships with varying amounts of cargo (so longer cargo loading times). This really isn't a negative of the game, just maybe if you manage to unload 100 ships maybe you get another type or something.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game and it is a keeper on my device. I have had a play every day just to see if I can better my score, and although I haven't yet, it didn't even matter, it was just a nice fun to play game. I salut you Captain Imangi for making a top game!
Should you buy this app at $0.99? Heck yes!! Why haven't you already?!
[July 2009 UPDATE : had to give this post a quick update, they have again added more to this game. There is now another level you can play and this time you get to fire cannons at pirates!! There is a canon at the bottom of your screen and you aim and fire when you see a pirate ship. You must stop them from robbing your cargo. Brilliant! This game gets better and better. If you still haven't made the purchase, it really has everything.]