Fire vs Water. That's what Sprinkle Islands [$0.99 / Free] comes down to in a nutshell. There are fires to be put out, and you have the hose, water tank and wooden toy style fire engine to go about doing so.
The truck drives itself once areas are cleared, and you move the nozzle up and down with a slide of the finger, while firing the water with a press of a button on the right of the screen. You have to be economical with your water supply: if you run out, you'll have to restart. And even if you don't, the amount of H2O left in your tank at the end of each round gives you your score for the level: a neat take on the star system adopted by every game since the first grumpy bird was slung across a touchscreen.
There's more to it than that, of course. Just like in the real world, fires aren't neatly lined up where they're easy to extinguish. You'll be perfecting your water ricochet technique as well as nudging obstacles onto switches to change the flow, as levels quickly change from open plan islands to intricate underground caves full of familiar feeling physics puzzles. It's a simple idea, but somehow, like using a water cannon to soak an unsuspecting friend, the novelty of directing the fire engine's water flow doesn't outstay its welcome over the course of the game.
Its colorful, cartoony and cheerful graphics are certainly charming, but do suggest a game that's more aimed at kids than adults. That's actually a bit misleading, because while any tot will have a great deal of fun splashing the water around, the intricate control of directing the stream to a well hidden fire can actually be pretty tough, even for the fully dextrous grown up writing this review now. The water physics feel very realistic as it splashes around the map, filling up resevoirs and trickling down walls, but it can be a tricky beast to be in full command of.
And if there's one criticism that can be directed at Sprinkle Islands, it's that. Controlling the actual nozzle of water is an inexact science at the best of times, and sometimes you'll find exactly the same strategy failing and then working on another go. If you're in the mood to get top marks on all the levels, you'll find judging the right amount of water required for each fire frustratingly inexact too. I'm sure these problems also affect real firemen, of course, but they've probably got bigger things to be worrying about. Like not getting set on fire.
Like the best iOS games, Sprinkle Islands takes a simple concept and creates a nice little time-waster that will provide pretty reliable entertainment in short bursts. Sure, it's a one trick pony, but its presentational charm, and the wonderful, childish fun you get from spraying water around means that you'd have to be pretty joyless not to see any appeal here.