Curvebot by Elpixo is essentially a 3D homage to Qix, the popular 80’s arcade game. While the 2 are by no means identical, the gameplay is extremely similar, with 2 main differences. Curvebot is a zoomed in three dimensional game, and as the name implies, it allows you to create curved lines, not just straight ones.
For those unfamiliar with Qix, the main goal is to draw lines on the surface of the level, creating segments as you chisel away at the level. In Curvebot, this is done by the cute robot (that looks like Wall-E’s girlfriend) that has to save his/her fiery friends that are trapped in some fire….pits I suppose. While Curvebot has some nice features and is actually refreshing after seeing nothing but physics based puzzle games on the App Store, Qix had a much more strategic feel to it, whereas Curvebot seems more like an action game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a difference.
You’ll be dodging enemies that become increasingly fast and annoying, and carving up a storm over 60 levels. Curvebot has Game Center integrated, although after the first 18-24 levels, the achievements become very hard to obtain and you may decide that they’re simply not worth it. Some seem too much like a chore, such as finishing an entire world in X moves. This might sound doable, except you have to take into consideration the various obstacles as well as drones you have to avoid.
Each time you carve 1% or more of the level’s surface, you get a ball. Then another one and another one, and so on, until you’ve basically got a “tail” made out of these floating buggers. They don’t really do much except increase your general score and scatter like Sonic the hedgehog’s rings when you run into an enemy (or they run into you), fire pit, or power up.The game’s point system is exponential, basically meaning that the number of balls on your tail and the amount you’ve cut when the level ends are multiplied so be sure to have 20 balls as often as you can if you want to sit on top of the leaderboards.
After the first stage you’ll start seeing power ups that you have to cut (caution, don’t run into them, they have the same effect as a fire pit) around. The unlimited boost and frozen drone power up are great except for being cancelled after the first cut (or failed attempt to do so).
The developer’s homages to classic arcade titles such as Pacman are awesome, and they made us smile quite a bit, adding even more fun to the retro aspect of the game. We wished there were more levels, or at least that the existing levels were more varied, instead of rehashed versions of the same level (human shape, rectangular, star shape with small modification), but they’re still quite fun to play.
The ball tail sometimes covers up the fire bases, leading to some epic “WTF JUST HAPPENED ?!?!?” moments. The fact that the floor on some levels is nearly pitch black and the fire things are similarly colored doesn’t help. At all. The flame will usually tell you where the fire bases are, but these flames occasionally bugged out and disappeared on the Iphone Touch 4th gen that was used for testing.
The angle seems awkward and confusing, and because of this you have an even harder time looking at the floor. The robot covers the middle of the screen so you’ll have to guesstimate where the fire things are at some points. The lack of an option to zoom out also means you’re not going to see whether you’re being chased by enemies, and what direction they’re coming from so that’s yet a bit more guesstimating.
It’s kind of hard to understand why the developer chose such a low angle. In a perfect world the angle would be at least 30 degrees higher and with twice the zoom out.
Another irritating issue is that there is no way to see the overview of the level. You get a glimpse of it for a few seconds as the level begins, in a cutscene-like zoom in of the level, and then that’s it. You’re at ground level. Got to remember where everything is. We found ourselves grabbing screenshots as a new level begins just so we can have an overview of the level while we play. That’s an oversight and we’re hopeful that the option to have some sort of an overhead view of the level will be implemented in the future.
However taking all this into consideration, the game is STILL extremely fun. There are obviously some frustrating moments, but overcoming them brings a nice sense of satisfaction, and the retro feel of the game is just too awesome to ignore.