Emberwind™ ($0.99) by Chillingo Ltd is a port of the indie classic for Mac and PC to the iPhone. It’s a graceful transition, and one that preserves the excellent platforming action of the original to the letter. The graphics are delightfully retro, and the depth involved is enough to keep the ball rolling for many hours of gameplay.
In Emberwind, players assume the persona of Kindle, a hapless gnome sentry charged with ridding Grendale of a gremlin infestation. These gremlins come from a super villain by the curious name of CandleFinger, which sets the tone of the app perfectly.
To conquer the realm and save the day, players must travel between various locations, whacking away at baddies. While defeating the enemies, Kindle must collect items such as acorns, gems, and other assorted goodies to improve his life and attacks.
The controls are quite simple, players tap the attack button to smash with Kindle’s cane, while the jump button controls all lateral movement.
The graphics look as though they came straight out of the Amiga era, and maintain the retro, indie feel of the original desktop title. Likewise, the pounding soundtrack fits right in along with goblin mashing, and helps to further the app’s immersion.
There’s a lot of gameplay offered here, with new levels unlocked in a steady stream of platforming action. To travel between stages, players will use Kindle’s trusty white owl, Wick.
There’s a vague plot involved too, but the value of the narrative is never quite fleshed out. The story doesn’t play much of a part in the action, but this is hardly a deal breaker, nor does it detract from Emberwind’s fun. Rather, it’s more of a shame, as the character sets and world involved are deep enough to warrant a more epic storyline.
This lack of specifics tends to bleed into the app’s exploration value, too. The game is often short on detailed explanations, leaving the player to discover aspects of the realm for themselves. For some this may be a boon, but missing something so obvious as the checkpoint lampposts can be a real drag for those that would rather be told how to play.
The controls also felt finicky, as if they’re too small for the iPhone’s screen. This is most noticeable in the directional pad, which quickly jumps from a slow crawl to an all-out spring. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to adjust to the layout. That being said, bigger buttons would certainly be appreciated.
At the end of the day, Emberwind is a brilliant port of an indie classic to the iPhone. The game’s graphics are beautifully old school, and the game world offered is deep enough to satisfy several morning commutes.
With simple controls, a fun concept, and an element of whimsy that can’t be undervalued, Emberwind’s $0.99 pricing in the App Store makes the game a perfect steal.
Emberwind is guaranteed to please fans of fantasy side scrollers, the original desktop title, and platformer hounds alike.