Secret Sauce's QuBIT [$0.99] is a great game I'm glad to have discovered. The development team is an offshoot of Ideaworks Game Studio, best known for quietly bringing other companies' intellectual property to the small screen with games like Call of Duty: Zombies [$4.99] . Given how well this, their first foray into original games, works, I'm already eager to see what they'll bring us next.
That's not to say QuBIT is flawless. I've seen high-score racers that have slicker graphics and fewer problems. But this one does three things very well: it expertly combines racing with color-matching elements, it offers up a high-score chase that's worth mastering, and it brings in a pounding electronic soundtrack that makes the whole package feel more compelling than it has any right to feel. Let's just say my interest is piqued.
You control a mining robot sent to collect obscurium, brightly colored crystal deposits that form on an alien world. These can be collected by smashing headfirst into them while you go on your merry way, but you can't just collect everything you see. You're expected to collect the ones that match the colors of your QuBs, the colored blocks that orbit the robot. If your QuBs are red and yellow, you need to collect a red crystal and a yellow crystal, triggering a combo and allowing you to move on. Anything else will interrupt your combo and weaken your robot. As you smash through crystals, the wave meter fills up, and when it reaches the top, you'll get a new, harder set of QuBs to match. Fail to make a combo for too long, and your robot runs out of energy and is unceremoniously extracted.
Because the entire game is built around these QuB combos, you'll find a lot of room to improve from your early forays into obscurium collection. Early on, you might be satisfying just reaching a certain wave before losing your robot. From there, you can try to complete all the waves, and then to get perfect combos in every bonus section. You can go even deeper to master boost timing and the use of plasma rails. Your successes don't only show up on the Game Center leaderboard, they're also quite visceral - you move faster as you do better, and the music builds up to stronger beats. Make sure your headphones are plugged in for this one.
There are three control methods to choose from: tilt, directional buttons and a left or right slider. Tilt is the default, and surprisingly it's also the most comfortable control method. Usually I'm not a fan of tilt controls for racers, but it works here. And frankly, the other controls aren't great. The directional buttons feel oddly stilted, and the sliders are too touchy - even at lower sensitivities. There's also no Retina support, and the game is currently only playable on iOS 4.3 or higher. Thankfully, an update has been submitted to drop that requirement down to 4.2.6, and Secret Sauce is working to build in support for second-gen devices.
QuBIT doesn't come loaded with game modes, and it would be nice to see more added in the future. That said, there's something to be said for a game that does one thing and does it well. The competition for high scores is intense, both on the leaderboards and in our forums. There are also achievements to earn. But while I'll sometimes return to a game just to watch my score rise or to see those achievement pop-ups, QuBIT makes me want to improve my skills - and it leaves me feeling well rewarded when I do.
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