Version Reviewed: 2.2.1
Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Game Controls [rating:3.5/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:3.5/5]
Replay Value [rating:4/5]
HydroTilt is a Marble Madness clone, mashed-up with a puzzle game - giving it an obvious similarity to Archer Maclean's Mercury, which was released on the PSP a few years back.
In HydroTilt you are tasked with guiding various forms of H2O around a pathway. Each level requires two tasks to be completed: turn your liquid water blob into an ice ball by collecting an ice cube (known as the Cool Block), and guide that icy ball to its target destination. Of course, it's not quite as easy as that. First, you have the option of collecting special crystals, which have been placed in difficult to access places. Second, the levels have obstacles to overcome, such as grilles (though which liquids fall), conveyor belts, narrow and collapsible pathways, and switch activated sliding platforms.
This is where the puzzle element of HydroTilt kicks in - you can only traverse certain sections of the play area in a particular form of water. Steam can travel over pretty much anything (although it can't activate switches), water will fall through grilles (but can activate certain types of switches), and the icy sphere is heavier and quicker (thus, it can activate pressure switches), but its weight can cause particular pathways to collapse. Before you set your water rolling, you will need to plan out a winning route if you want to collect the crystal and pick up the necessary ice cube, before heading for the exit. Along the way you'll discover different machines that will alter the form of your initial drip - quite often you'll need to switch back and forth between states to complete a level.
HydroTilt requires good manual dexterity and problem solving skills. A game like this lives or dies on its control mechanism, and its puzzles: too awkward to control, and you will soon get frustrated; too irksome a puzzle, and you'll soon jab the home button, never to open the app again. HydroTilt avoids these issues and presents a good, honest challenge.
This game's use of the accelerometer is implemented excellently. The default set-up worked fine for me, but there is the option to re-calibrate the accelerometer to more suit your style.
Moving the water - in whatever form - feels intuitive and reactive. You will need to use sharp reflexes to get around the ever more challenging levels, and cope with the differences in how each version of water moves - for example, ice moves a lot quicker than the water or steam. At no time, though, does the game feel unfairly difficult.
Once you've completed the game's native levels, you can download extra, user-created content. This adds a huge dollop of longevity to HydroTilt. As well as this bonus, also included is a level editor. You can create cunning challenges for your own amusement (or torture), and upload them for others to download and play.
HydroTilt's graphics are good, but not spectacular. They serve their function well enough, but they don't have the style and panache that certain other App store games have. The price, at $4.99, could be a sticking point for some, but with the addition of a level editor and the chance to download other player's creations, this game, in my opinion, represents good value.
HydroTilt is a good game. It will amuse you, puzzle you, test your hand to eye coordination, and - when completing a difficult level - reward you with a tangible sense of achievement. It's definitely worth downloading the lite version to see whether this game suits you.