Resolution Interactive released their first iPhone game last week: Clusterball Arcade [App Store].
This game came with high expectations after we'd all seen some impressive preview videos. Clusterball Arcade is an extension of an existing PC game called Clusterball which appears to be a multi-player sport. The iPhone version, however, is a one-man game against the clock and the scoreboard.
You are the pilot of a ship which you must glide over ramps, collect balls and score goals while attempting to complete the course within the allotted time. Despite the sports theme, the iPhone version of the game is more of a checkpoint racer with various obstacles and bonuses available along the way.
Although it only has 10 stages, each stage has a variety of paths (ramps) that can be taken. While some ramps carry higher scoring balls, they also present more difficult paths.
While Clusterball offers small game "tips" while each level loads, there are no real instructions on strategy or explanations of many of obstacles and powerups. If you treat the game like a traditional checkpoint racer, there is little reason to experiment with different paths. And since the game only allows you to start from stage one, there is a large incentive to try to complete each level at all costs.
The inclusion of the global high score list, however, indicates that this is the ultimate goal of gameplay, but with a restart to stage one each time, it may take a lot of trial and error to make dramatic improvements in your score. I, personally, found this goal to be unmotivating, and would have preferred to be able to easily replay more advanced levels individually.
The ship is controlled through the iPhone's accelerometer and takes some getting used to, but does offer an enjoyable experience once you get the hang of it. (There is no way to calibrate the accelerometer) In general, the gameplay and animation are smooth but the game does suffer from some memory issues (see below) and slowdowns which we hope will be addressed shortly.
This gameplay video shows footage from the release version of the game. The other ship that is seen is a "ghost ship" which shows the historic movements of someone else on the track. The ghost player can from your own personal runs or can be downloaded from someone on the global high score list.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this version of Clusterball is the one of stability. Clusterball 1.0 has serious issues with memory usage and will frequently complain of low-memory situations. Fortunately, the CEO of Resolution Interactive has informed us that a patch to address the memory issues is in the approval queue.