We thought we'd seen the peak of innovation this week when ARDefender showed just how an augmented reality game should be made. Revolutionary Concepts and indie developer Nicolai Troshinsky had other ideas though, and have delivered something truly...well, revolutionary. If Augmented Reality is the idea of superimposing a game world onto your real world, then what has been done in UFO on Tape [App Store] can only be described as Transplanted Reality-- a window into another world right in your hands.

UFO on Tape is a straightforward concept delivered in the most captivating way. It starts by showing you a re-created view of an iPhone camera (no actual use of the camera is ever made), as if it were pointed out the window of a car. Your girlfriend next to you then tells you that she's seen something strange in the sky. With your camera, you zoom in on the object, only to discover it is in fact, a UFO. As it darts around the sky and weaves amongst buildings, your task is to keep the zippy UFO firmly locked in your sights.

UFO on Tape delivers its incredible realism in two ways-- firstly, through a pixel-perfect, photo-realistic representation of a video reel; and secondly, through the use of the iPhone 4's gyroscope, or if unavailable, the accelerometer. These two mechanics go hand in hand to make it actually seem as if you are controlling a camera phone and pointing it at something in the sky, all while looking through its viewfinder.

Naturally, use of the gyroscope is preferred, as it allows you to orient yourself to the ground and move the camera around as if it were actually in your hand, giving the most accurate experience. That's not to take anything away from the accelerometer though, as both functioned well to deliver similar results (if less dramatic on the older devices).

The game itself is extraordinarily simple, but also very challenging. The pesky UFO seems aware of your attentions, darting backwards and forwards at varying heights-- frequently trying to lose you amidst the tops of buildings. Not only that, but it occasionally darts into your peripheral vision too, which is restricted by the blur of the outline of your car window. Explaining this in words is already doing it an injustice, but it is the most amazing thing to witness your game world restricted by something as routine as the view out your car window.

The entire experience is further enhanced by the interaction with your girlfriend. As you hone in on the flying saucer she'll make all kinds of comments; ranging from stunned disbelief to utter dismay if you happen to lose your target. If it does get away, she'll quickly start barking orders trying to direct you in the way it seems to have gone. Her fully voiced lines flow seamlessly are surprisingly plentiful-- in the 30 or so games I played, I was frequently surprised by the new comments that pop up, there are that many. The dressing down she gives you from time to time-- "You idiot! You lost it!"-- and certain other memorable comments never tire, either.

The ambiance in UFO on Tape also deserves a special mention, as it has been meticulously crafted to such a degree of accuracy that it almost goes unnoticed, as it does when you're really driving. If you do hone in on it though (headphones help), you'll notice the sounds of the city behind you, from the purr of your own engine, to passing cars, sirens in the background and even the tick-tick of your turn signals as the car presumably negotiates the streets to afford you the best view. A creepy, X-Files like soundtrack really underlines the excellent audio work in UFO on Tape.


UFO on Tape is a singular experience, not for its dramatic level of content and replayability-- in fact, the game itself is quite basic, with a standard high score table recorded on Game Center-- but for the immense attention to detail needed to successfully bring its world alive in the palm of your hand. The true-to-life look, sounds and handling all come together to deliver something really special that simply must be played to be believed. We're telling you now, screenshots do not do this game justice, so get out and grab UFO on Tape pronto if this review has even piqued your interest in the slightest.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Ruddock/654075778 Ben Ruddock

    Downloading now, though I'm a bit worried how it's going to fare with the standard accelerometer.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Ruddock/654075778 Ben Ruddock

      Turns out it works great and I love it XD I imagine it's more immersive with a gyroscope though.

      • http://twitter.com/orionnoiro27 Shawn F

        I gotta agree its pretty cool :D I instantly bought it after seeing such a unique little game, and love it :D

    • Marvitos

      I an older device with the accelerometer, but I can't seem to control the camera.

  • Anonymous

    I WANT TO BELIEVE.

    • justpassingby

      Lol ... XD

  • Dgrams2003

    Okay.. they got my .99 - After reading the review, and not understanding exactly what this is... I am going off of the positive comments made and will give this a try.

  • cyberpyrot

    this game would be awesome if you could actualy record your experiance to the camara role and upload to FB.

  • cyberpyrot

    OK Just tried it albeit it is fun but it is not augmented reality. Augmented reality puts aumented objects in real world enviroments this is just a game that uses the accellorometer to track in game objects. It would have been much cooler if you could play the game in your own enviroment. like if I went out side and pointed the camara to the sky. there would be much more replay value if you could do this aslo if you where able to record your game to camara role you would be able to fool your friends as well.

    • rambo10

      I don't think it was ever claimed to be an augmented reality game. The review just ties this and ARDefender together based on innovation, not AR.

      I just grabbed it and think it's really good fun. Honestly I think this is miles ahead of overlaying on your camera AR style, as for me I'd get sick of seeing small UFO's inhabit my lounge room.

    • http://www.facebook.com/boninm Mathieu Bonin

      It's really interesting that you say it's not augmented reality, since it's written very clearly in the review.

      • cyberpyrot

        I know but it was catogorized as Augmented reality. They have recently changed this.

      • Friendo

        I guess it wasn't written clear enough, because it never claims this is an augmented reality game at all. As a matter of fact, it even goes as far as to compare it to augmented reality games then saying that it is different and can only be described as "Transplanted reality".

      • cyberpyrot

        Ok I know what the review said but prior to toucharcade changing the catogories it was listed as bieng in the Augmented Riality catagory. Im not saying the game is not fun sure its a blast I just think there should be an option to use your own back drop as well as having the ability to record game play to camara roll how fun it would be to show your friends a video of a UFO hovering above your house prior to you telling them its a cool new game.

    • Adams Immersive

      To be fair, it’s not meant to be Augmented Reality, nor claimed to be. It’s a regular “game reality” game :)

      I think there should be a Double Rainbow Bonus from time to time.

  • Silent Rocco

    What a fantastic presentation!! Wow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howie-Barker/596795048 Howie Barker

    So, general consensus is that it plays ok with the accelerometer only?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Ruddock/654075778 Ben Ruddock

      I think so, yeah.

    • DotComCTO

      Sure does. It's a very unique game, and has that "just one more try" quality to it!

  • Jay

    Wow. What a simple concept, but an incredibly challenging game. The only drawback seems to be that you have to be standing (or in a swivel chair) to play it well. Beautiful execution, though.

  • Thaurin

    Hahaha, love the Plan 9 From Outer Space UFO at the beginning of the video! Ed Wood rocks.

  • Javierbds

    That looks like Madrid (Rosales)?

  • JB

    You can only play as someone with a "girlfiend"? And neither reviewer nor commenters question this. Says a lot about gamers

    • DotComCTO

      To my knowledge, that is correct. There is a female in the car with you making comments during gameplay. Some encourage you when you're doing well, and some direct you where to point the camera.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      JB, the game never TELLS you that it's your girlfriend, for all intents and purposes, it could just be a mate. If you hadn't read the app description, you would be none the wiser and could make your own interpretation.

      But, even if it DID tell you, what it says a lot about is the nature of the indie industry, not anything else. They operate on tight budgets, so what would be the point in paying someone to record a whole new set of voice recordings, just to appease those that can't appreciate the game for what it is?

    • Revolutionary Concepts

      Good point. Hard to know which is more unrealistic - gamer with girlfriend, or ufo'. Damn how'd we miss that lol :p

  • Da_moe

    i just boght this awesome game. but didn't anybody, not even the developer notice that the horizontal controls are inverted and useless in its current state? if not changing that they should at leastadd an option, like the "invert y-axis"...

    • Jay

      I'm not sure what you mean. The game behaves just fine on my iPhone 4. The UFO moves so fast, though, it's maddening to track. My longest time so far is a pathetic 23 seconds.

    • DotComCTO

      I don't understand. There *is* an "invert y-axis" option in the game settings. Perhaps you didn't catch it? There's also a "sensitivity" setting that is quite useful when you're not playing on an iPhone 4.

      • Da_moe

        the game camera doesn't behave like a real cam would.
        e.g. if you turn your ipod ( in my case ) to the right the image on screen should move to le left. but its the other way round. if you have an iphone, you can check this easily with the cam...

      • Promisedplanet

        Well, the review DOES say that the UFO seems to sense your actions. ;-) j/k, I agree with your comments.

        I also think it would be great if the game operated in two modes - using the simulated video, or using the iPhone's actual camera (does the iPhone camera do video, or just stills? I only have an iPod Touch). It would be pretty cool to use the second mode outside. Without the added sound effects, of course. You could tell your watching friends that the camera has a telescope function. ;-)

    • Mmf

      Maybe you're holding your phone upside down, lol.

  • philhassey

    this is great - thanks for the rec.

  • http://www.swingnite.com/ NYCrooner

    I'm loudly and proudly tell anyone with .99 cents to spare to give these devs some love. The game is really original, well done and best of all addictive. Got a bunch of friends to buy it and they all enjoying it. I hope for a deeper experience in future updates but as is, it's perfect for a few rounds.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JZIZ6NLYZDGC52DL4QEVBIALMU Hackmodford

    It behaves the correct way for me. I move the iPod to the right (i have the gyroscope) the buildings/sky moves left...

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kno-Buddee/100001412083696 Kno Buddee

    They are our elder brothers- thousands of years more evolved/advanced than we are. They solved many of the same big problems that we face, thousands of years ago. They want to help, but corrupt world leaders are afraid that they'll loose their power over the people. The Space brothers will help us create world peace and the power will be in the hands of the people.Excerpt from FAQ with Benjamin Creme on UFOS & the Space BrothersAll the planets, without exception, are inhabited. In my experience, UFOs are absolutely real. They cannot usually be seen by us because their normal state is on the higher etheric, not solid, physical levels. When we do see them, this is because they lower the vibrational rate of the vehicles to come within our vision, as a temporary manifestation...They help us in many ways and without them this earth would be a very painful place indeed. They mop up a great deal of the nuclear radiation which we release into the atmosphere through nuclear experimentation...
    http://www.share-international.org/archives/UFOs/faq_UFOs.htm

  • http://strangera.com/ Strangera

    If they make this to work with the real camera... than this will be a blast! :)

  • Guest

    Wow, I feel like I've played this game before. Like 8 years ago.

    http://www.ferryhalim.com/orisinal/g2/truth.htm