Developer: BIG BUCKET SOFTWARE
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

In the Incident, you play an everyman with a problem: heavy things keep dropping in your general vicinity. Your only chance to make it end it is to climb up the pile of objects until you reach the source and put a stop to the shenanigans. That thankless task — climbing higher and higher on a constant pile of falling detritus — is the sole goal of The Incident. Luckily, it’s also a whole lot of fun.

You control the hero by tilting the device left and right, and jump him by tapping. It’s simple and controls well, which means that you can quickly get to the job of staying alive. Like another popular jumping game out there, Doodle Jump, the premise is so simple that if anything in the game were poorly executed, it could easily be called repetitive — dodge, jump, jump, dodge, grab a coin, jump. But The Incident does such a good job of keeping you on your toes, watching all corners of the screen, and scrambling for precious power-ups, that its simple premise is practically addictive.

The first few levels ramp up nicely, so that by the time things get really hectic, you’ll be well versed in the art of dodging and jumping. Along the way you’re earning enough extra lives that you’ll probably never run out, and hitting frequent checkpoints so that you can hold onto your progress. There are only eight total levels, beginning on the street and ending in space, but each level packs enough challenge to make it feel like plenty of game.

The Incident’s 8-bit style helps in that it’s clean and well-executed. There’s a large variety of pixelated, brightly-colored objects being thrown at you, many of them eliciting a little smile the first time they appear — everything from taxis and sofas to Egyptian sarcophagi, garden gnomes, and Easter Island statues. There are not so many that you’ll never see a repeat, but there are enough to keep the pile interesting. And when you die, you’re granted a little death trophy of the object that killed you; “Death by Midcentury-Modern Door at 575m” is quite a way to go.

Any complaints about the Incident are minor. The aforementioned small number of levels is a limitation on replayability, and the lack of any online leaderboards or other competitive components will disappoint some. And yes, if the core game play doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll get bored very quickly, as they’re nothing else to the game but jump, jump, dodge, jump. But none of these are significant drawbacks.

There’s something sweet about seeing a simple concept executed well. The Incident is a great game that offers up a fun time with well-crafted retro sensibilities, and it’s sure to appeal to a lot of iOS gamers. Download it today.

Update 10/18/10: Big Bucket Software has released a major update for The Incident, turning this already top-notch game into a true 5-star app. All of the (admittedly minor) issues we had with the Incident have been addressed in this update: a new “Endless Mode” and Game Center integration with online leaderboards have really enhanced The Incident’s playability, and the introduction of an awards and achievement section allows you to go back and relive your best moments (and best deaths).

In addition, Big Bucket added a sweet new feature to the game: the ability to use an iPhone or iPod Touch as a controller when playing on the iPad. This feature works very nicely, and even uses the iPhone screen to preview the next falling object. It’s a clever and well-implemented feature, and it has quickly become my favorite way to play The Incident. If you have both devices, you owe it to yourself to give this a try.

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