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‘Foodies HD’ Review – Clever Physics-Based Arcade Game Arrives on the iPad

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Back in May, we reviewed a clever little game called Foodies [99¢] from developer Nano Titans. It featured a rotund little creature named Sam who was in love with his best gal Pam, and proposed marriage to her. Unfortunately, Sam wasn’t quite rotund enough for Pam’s taste. She gives Sam exactly one week to eat everything in sight and gain enough weight to appease her before she would agree to marry him. Ah, unhealthy eating and forced obesity, the signs of true love.

While the story is certainly silly, and the graphics and presentation are appropriately adorable, the thing that really stood out in Foodies was the clever mechanics and controls. Each level in Foodies is littered with different kinds of food items, and the goal is to bounce Sam around the screen to collect them all. This is accomplished in an intuitive way by placing both thumbs on the screen which creates a bouncy platform in the space in-between them. You can change the size and angle of this platform by adjusting the placement of your thumbs, and the whole system just works incredibly well as you bounce Sam around the levels in the game.

One thing many players were asking after Foodies was released was whether or not an iPad version was in the cards. The developers responded that if they could find a way to make the game work on the larger screen, then they would look into bringing the game out for the iPad. Well, it appears that they’ve cracked that particular nut, as Foodies HD [$1.99] made a surprise appearance in the App Store this week.

One of the things that made the original Foodies so great was that it just felt perfect in regards to where your thumbs went when holding an iPhone or iPod touch. Very natural. It was hard to imagine how that could translate to a device that was more than four times the size, but I think Nano Titans has pulled it off about as well as you could expect. I still prefer to play the game on the iPhone, but it’s still quite successful on the iPad, and if that’s the only device that you own it’s well worth checking out Foodies HD.

One nice feature of Foodies HD is that it can be played in either portrait or landscape mode. In portrait, you can somewhat get away with using your thumbs to play like you normally would, though you still have to stretch them pretty far to do so. Still, it works pretty well. The sacrifice for this is that the game is then rendered on only the bottom portion of the screen, with the top portion being filled with static game artwork and your current score and online leaderboard position, as well as the top online score overall. I’m not a big fan of having games rendered in a smaller window within the screen of the iPad, but it isn’t too bad here, and at least they put the empty space up top to good use.

(Video from the iPhone version)

However, in landscape orientation, the game plays in full screen, and it looks especially crisp and vibrant on the iPad. The trouble here though is that it’s basically impossible to play with your two thumbs with any degree of proficiency, and instead the game recommends that you use your two index fingers to play. This of course means you’ll need to lay the iPad down in your lap or onto a table in order to have both hands free. I experimented with using the thumb and index finger of one hand to play while holding the iPad with my other hand, but it was just too awkward to really be of any use. Still, with a properly positioned iPad, I felt that using two index fingers and having the larger screen actually helped me play better than I normally do on the iPhone, which is pretty cool.

So, the bottom line is that Foodies is a clever, intuitive, and unique experience on the iPhone, and that all remains fairly true with Foodies HD on the iPad. As long as you know the sacrifices that need to be made with the larger device, then you should have a great time playing through the many levels in Foodies HD, and every iPad owner should definitely check it out. If you own the game on the iPhone or iPod touch already, then you aren’t really missing out on anything by just sticking with that version.

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