December 1, 2010
OverviewThe elements for a successful game in the App Store are few. Ease of play, addictiveness, re-playability, originality, graphics and hanging on to the coattails of previously successful titles all belong on this short list. Spirits for iPad notches a few of these and the combination is at least intriguing. You are to indirectly control and direct groups of white 'spirits' through various levels. It doesn't take long to figure it out and the 'just one more' syndrome might overtake you on the first level, but many will soon figure that as fun as the game is, it may be nothing more than a re-tread.
FeaturesThe goal of the game is to get your fungi flavored friends from their leafy birthplace to the 'Spiral', whatever that is. You have four methods of getting them over, around, through, beneath and above(and all the rest of the prepositions), obstacles in your path. You can either dig, blow, grow or block (or any combination thereof) to successfully complete the missions, and the main element you are trying to control is the wind. But be aware that if you use a spirit to complete one of these four tasks, you lose them and they will not finish the level or count towards your total. As mentioned, you are trying to get the white spirits from the place of origin to the spirally finish, but that is only half of the objective. Plants are also found along the way and you learn that 'a plant is worth a thousand spirits', or something like that. To capture plants, you either have a spirit walk past them or if a spirit is in flight, you can tap them and they will drop a piece of something that can also secure the plants. To finish a level, there are a minimum set of requirements, but to get the highest score, you need to have a perfect level. This means that you use the fewest spirits possible while collecting all of the plants. The Good There is something to be said about casual gaming and those who successfully capture it. I have always loved Fieldrunners because I can sit and watch TV or the little one while playing, not needing my full attention to either all of the time. Spirits excels at this as well as you can set things in motion and then wait a bit until you next move (though a x2 speed up button similar to Fieldrunners would be nice). Spirits is also semi-addictive. The challenge of each level is just enough to allure you to try the next, and each mission is just short enough that you know you will have time to complete it. There is also a soothing feel to the game. The wispy wind and calming music work together the way a massage and waterfall combine for ambiance at a spa. There are also plenty of challenging levels, all with a much needed replay button. You'll need it, I promise. If you are like me, you will also like that most of these levels can be solved in more than one way. You're scores can also be listed online against other players, if you wish, although it doesn't use the popular OpenFient or the more recent Game Center. The Bad My first impressions of the game had me excited because I felt that this was a rare, completely unique game. After a few rounds, however, I realized that, for the most part, I have been here before. See, several Windows OS's ago, I enjoyed many a day with these little guys called 'Lemmings'. In many ways, Spirits is the newer, rehashed, arbor clinging, touch-optimized Lemmings for the iPad. This actually could be good or bad because although originality points are worth a lot in the App Store, Lemmings was, basically, awesome. For many, Spirits will also get old after a while. After you unlock all of the tools, each level is just a matter of using a different configuration of the tools to complete it. And another thing, why aren't all of the tools available for all levels? If you are a stickler for detail, you will also be disappointed with the protagonists involved. White and mushroom shaped, the Spirits are almost completely devoid of any detail. The color palette is also not much in the way of diversity.
The VerdictIf you are looking for something different, relaxing and casual, Spirits refreshing title that will (mostly) leave you satisfied. But if you enjoy your money (wierdo), are an adrenaline junkie or a Mycophobiac, there are many better $5 games out there for the taking.
Subatomic Studios, LLC