How to keep a true iPhone classic fresh
One Man Left is probably better known for crazy-hard simple games that make you retry, retry and retry again. When the studio released the slow-paced Outwitters, an asynchronous strategy game in the vein of Hero Academy, it was a complete departure from the intense arcade we were used to. Although it perspired love and care, the monetisation model didn't work as planned, leaving future projects in question.
What we get today is all we could have wished for since the release beloved Tilt to Live over three years ago. On the surface, the original seemed like a basic tech demo to showcase the accelerometer functionality: Tilt to Live is as simple as moving an arrow around the screen by tilting your phone. To make this mechanic something remarkable, One Man Left added layers of style with a nasty enemy AI, strategic power ups, a catchy soundtrack and cartoony visuals. All of them combined make one of my favourite titles for the iPad that I keep installed and make friends play when they come around.
Having set the bar even higher thanks to content updates over the years, releasing a sequel that doesn't disappoint is simply intimidating. The developer has taken a conservative approach, maintaining all the basic ingredients that made the original great. Now taking advantage of fancier animations and effects, the staple green background and red dots still carry the same vibe, making you realise how far this is now from a basic accelerometer technical demo and reach a must-have status.
The 2013 Tilt to Live also draws from mobile gaming trends, most notably in the three-mission achievement method popularised by Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride. Giving the players three different objectives with some bare description is the ultimate hook to keep going, keep retrying and levelling up. Not that the frustration of ending that last good round for a silly mistake was a bad reason anyway.
The formula also includes boss fights and big enemies, ensuring every try is no longer than a minute — of maybe that's me. Although it's clear you need to hit the green targets, the random nature of the levels and the type of boss you get doesn't allow the player to learn or practice. To enervate cheaters even more, when you enter boss mode there's no option to revive your arrow. Ouch!
A touch slower
With our devices getting faster and the rise of quick gaming titles such as Super Hexagon or Pivvot, the new Tilt to Live feels a tad slow. I remember more radical motions and extreme last-minute turns on the original, somehow a faster-paced game. Perhaps it's the new defensive style power-ups, like the disguise that allows you to move around undetected. Maybe using the green goo weapon doesn't require frenetic moves but careful slow turns. Maybe it's my perception and I'm the slow one here.
My other nitpick has to do with the letterboxing on the iPad. The different aspect ratios present on the four-inch iPhones and the iPads show some compromise: the iPad won't use all the screen real estate, having a play area that doesn't take advantage of the full screen.
These don't detract enjoying Redonkulous though. The new selection of weapons — including the dual lightsaber — bring fresh air forcing you to rethink your strategies. The tweaked scoring system and multipliers will keep you trying to beat your Game Center friends. Tilt to Live 2 doesn't break the mould; it simply updates a great game idea for modern devices while reminding people that might have missed the original of how simple a great mobile game can be.
Update: user feedback update (3/12/13) The developer pushed an update addressing some of the criticisms in this review. The tilt sensitivity has been tweaked to please 'hyperactive players', which should make the cursor move faster. Also very welcome is the "Old School" mode that removes the boss fights and revival roulette on both Classic and Code Red modes, basically replicating how the original game played.