Emberwind [$0.99 / HD] is a delightful 2d action adventure side-scrolling platformer with fantasy themes, published by Chillingo and ported to IOS by Innogiant. It was originally released on PC / Mac by TimeTrap in 2009-- And yet, it's still a wonderful game to play today, on our fancy new hi-tech iOS touch screens.

This platform game has a fantasy storyline.  The city of Grendale has been besieged by gremlins led by the demon war-lord, CandleFinger. And the King has suddenly gone missing. As the local watchman, 'Kindle' the heroic fire-gnome bravely sets out to investigate. He rides into each level on a giant white snow-owl, called 'Wick'. His adventures unfold through cut-scenes and in-game dialog with the characters he meets as you unlock  the world map. While there's a storyline, you can still replay levels for better scores, or just for pleasure.

The game involves running, jumping, collecting acorns and diamonds for points, and collecting food for health - all as you'd expect from a platform game - but you also mash the attack button to fight nasty gremlins with your 'Cane of Justice'.  When confronted by a particularly large mob of gremlins, the button mashing sometimes feels excessive, as they require multiple hits to dispatch, but if you chain together several hits in a row, you'll earn a power burst which blows them all away. Problem solved!

As you progress you gain additional attacks and abilities, like bowling over enemies with a dashing death-roll. Little creatures named "brownies" can be found who gift you special-attacks, like shooting fireballs from your cane, which is rather handy. I've seen some comments online that the game is too long and that the gremlin fighting eventually becomes repetitive, but I'm still enjoying it and there's boss-fights and levels where you fly around on Wick, to spice things up.

There's heaps to explore, with locations underground, indoors, underwater, on sailing boats and even amongst the clouds. You can roam quite freely and there's more than one route through most levels. Houses can be found and rescuing the villagers inside from house-squatting gremlins earns extra points.  If you look hard enough, you'll find hidden areas and treasure chests, perhaps even some golden apples. Three small fireflies follow you on your travels and glow when secrets are nearby, so it pays to keep an eye on them.

This game has many nice touches to enjoy.  If you ignite the fireplace inside a house, smoke pours out the chimney when you return outdoors. Also, animations occur on the world map to tie in with the story being told. If you ignite a streetlight, it kills any gremlins nearby and becomes your re-spawn point if you die, so you don't need to re-start from the beginning each time. Once a level is completed, Kindle must return to Wick, the big white bird, to soar off to the next level, although if you're lucky you might stumble upon a short-cut back to the start.

Emberwind really feels like an epic fantasy adventure, with layered backgrounds, a suitably dramatic music score, and gameplay which can be downright challenging; there's always something going on.  It may have originated a few years ago, but it doesn't feel dated. In fact, Emberwind compares favorably against most modern platform games, so I'm surprised it hasn't received more attention. It looks, sounds and plays great on my iPad, so although some iOS ports are not particularly successful, this old platformer from the last millennium has definitely still got it.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Foobar

    PC & Mac versions were released in 2009 / 2010, NOT 15 years ago! :D

    • Troy Woodfield

      Ahhh.... Thanks for the correction. I googled for the release date and found some information which appears to be wrong. The review has been revised thanks to your feedback.

      • wmmf

        Except the date (15 years) mentioned in the last paragraph needs to be changed as well...

      • wmmf

        Except the date (15 years) mentioned in the last paragraph needs to be changed as well...

      • wmmf

        Except the date (15 years) mentioned in the last paragraph needs to be changed as well...

    • Troy Woodfield

      Ahhh.... Thanks for the correction. I googled for the release date and found some information which appears to be wrong. The review has been revised thanks to your feedback.

  • http://www.facebook.com/apparent.symmetry App Symmetry

    this is REALLY one of the BEST games I've played all year... I can't believe how much content there is for a buck!! I liked it so much I went ahead and bought the PC version too... =oD

    I am however having a couple of problems with the extra stages (after the boss battles) - like for instance - the Ski Area after the first boss fight, the game crashes every time I try and load it... =o/ 

    Same with the special level after the 2nd boss fight... 

    Other than that... I've gotten use to the controls pretty quickly, and am LOVING the game! =oD

    And the above post is correct... from their website -- "The company was founded by Erik and Chris in early 2008 and they have since then gathered some extraordinary talent to create Emberwind." 

  • http://www.facebook.com/apparent.symmetry App Symmetry

    this is REALLY one of the BEST games I've played all year... I can't believe how much content there is for a buck!! I liked it so much I went ahead and bought the PC version too... =oD

    I am however having a couple of problems with the extra stages (after the boss battles) - like for instance - the Ski Area after the first boss fight, the game crashes every time I try and load it... =o/ 

    Same with the special level after the 2nd boss fight... 

    Other than that... I've gotten use to the controls pretty quickly, and am LOVING the game! =oD

    And the above post is correct... from their website -- "The company was founded by Erik and Chris in early 2008 and they have since then gathered some extraordinary talent to create Emberwind." 

  • Pekefarrokhi

    I haven't bought this game yet because of poor controls from other users reviews. Yet you didn't mention the controls at all. I think that's a pretty important part to address. How are they?

    • Guesy

      They are really bad on the iPhone 4....

    • Troy Woodfield

      Some iPhone users have mentioned the controls are a bit small (as you mention) but my experience on the iPad was fine. Check out the TA thread as it there's some discussion about controls there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/apparent.symmetry App Symmetry

      I'm really not having one problem at all with them. At first it was a little weird, but by the 2nd stage, I was set. They feel normal now, and I have no complaints what-so-ever when it comes to the controls - I'm using an iPod touch... =o)

  • bigrand1

    This game is set in a real town in the Valley called Glendale, but twenty years from now it'll all be inhabited by Japanese. Hence, the new name Grendale! 

  • Caanerud

    Controls great on the iPad.

  • Caanerud

    Controls great on the iPad.

  • Guest

    I think putting the dpad more near the corner and moving the health bar thing(or whatever that is) towards the top where other parts of the interface are would be a better move.

    Will wait until more updates, but the game has me interested.

  • spidey

    not very exhaustive a review this. The forum thread is full of discussion on controls! Glossed over entirely here!

    • shmup fan

      I concur.  The screenshots show that the virtual analog stick is not in the typical corner you would expect it to be in and last week's forum comments seemed to focus on people questioning the location and others complaining about how bad it is.  Yet, this review does not even bring up the potential issue of the awkward control layout.

      The only reason I read this review was to see another opinion about the awkward control layout...

Emberwind™ Reviewed by Troy Woodfield on . Rating: 4