Since the iPad's arrival last month, we've joined readers in keeping our ear to the ground in order to get our hands on any great new or retooled games offering specific iPad support that land in the App Store. Such titles that take advantage of the iPad's more powerful processor and feature high resolution graphics befitting the iPad's large display have the potential to deliver a game experience beyond that of the iPhone. Of course, the iPad is quite capable of running all your iPhone games (at standard res or 2x scaled), but generally those titles are better played on their original target device.
Of course, there are exceptions. Certain iPhone shooters are more enjoyable on the iPad -- Espgaluda II, for one. And, I find that iPhone Arkanoid clones play a little better on the iPad -- Bricks of Camelot, Krypton Egg, and ... Arkanoid, for example. But, of all the iPhone games I've played on Apple's multitouch tablet, Steph Thirion's Eliss [App Store] is by far the best fit for the device.
Eliss, IGF Mobile 2009 finalist for Innovation in Mobile Game Design, superbly demonstrates all that multitouch gaming can be.
The universe that Eliss presents is a place of entropy. The game challenges the player–in mind and body–to apply order to this universe. Into this dark void spring planets of varying size and color. Like colored planets can be combined to make a larger planet (pinch) or pulled apart to create smaller planets (spread). The goal of the game is to eliminate the planets by dragging them into the "squeezars" (think black…err…multicolored holes) of matching size and color that blink in and out of the universe. After a set number of planets have been eliminated it's on to the next level. And the most important thing to remember? Don't let planets of different colors touch! Failure to heed that warning will result in a rapid drain of energy levels and a chance to see the Game Over screen. Making the task harder are the space vortexes that draw planets towards them (and one another) as well as a red giant star that meanders its way in and out of the playfield, draining energy on contact with any planet.
As I said in last year's review of the game, I've found myself laying my iPhone flat on a table and struggling to keep the planets away from each other and that cursed, wandering red giant with as many as five fingers on the screen at once. With so much extra space to work with on the iPad, the Twister experience -- for fingers as well as for the mind -- that is Eliss is even more engaging than on the original target device. What's more, the game's spartan geometric, almost retro visuals actually look better at 2x scale on the iPad's display, in my opinion. This is a game that's not begging for an iPad-specific release.
Anyone that has yet to experience Eliss, on iPhone or iPad, should at least spend some time with the free, lite version [App Store].