iDroids offers robot love but will it keep your interest?

Posted: May 15, 2009 in Platformer

Robot love…that’s the underlying theme of new side-scrolling platformer iDroids developed by a company called, what else, Artificial Life. The game offers some appealing backgrounds, smooth animation, and some subtle and not so subtle sexual innuendo. Having said that, the game offers little in terms of gameplay to help it stand out from other platformers.

The storyline revolves around an iDroid named HAXX whose wife Pixie and three little babybots have been kidnapped by the evil BAD RAMM. Apparently, BAD RAMM has a bad case of the love bug for Pixie which is what started all the hubbub. Domestic disturbances aside, HAXX will do anything to get his family back even if it means traveling through the bowels of iDroidOpia, which is good for us.

Visually, I’ve experienced very little lag in the game’s performance, but there is a 5-8 second loading time prior to each stage which can be irritating for some. It’s minimal, but also long enough that you’ll pay attention. The background music sounds great and very chipper in tone, while cut scenes with dialog provide snapshots of the storyline at the beginning of each level, which you can also skip.

HAXX’s journey involves inflicting some robot hurt in 11 missions and 3 boss battles that take him through iDroidAbama (read that however you want), iDriotic Ocean, The Sewers of Socket City, and the Dirty Socket District (think 6th Street here in San Francisco except with robots).

iDroids has two options for controls: d-pad and accelerometer with sensitivity settings. I find the d-pad works best in terms of accuracy and control, but if you’re feeling adventurous with HAXX, the accelerometer works fine with lowered sensitivity. Now we get to the fun part: the tools. This is where iDroids differentiates itself from other platformers not because of what the tools do, but in how they’re presented. Weapons include bombs, a zapper and the Goo shield. Visually, the discharge from the zapper looks like a tadpole, while the Goo shield resembles a ghost costume…need I say more. You also have various tools including a grappling hook and stealth suit. Throughout the missions, HAXX will have access to other helpful aids including sign posts that offer tips, the transfer portal to move to another location, and my personal favorite the recharging station. It’s difficult to play this game without noticing the type of humor the devs had in mind when they created iDroids because it’s prevalent through all the levels.

iDroids has an interesting gameplay layout which I’m not particularly keen of because it feels clunky. In the upper left-hand corner is the Options button leading back to the menu. At the top of the screen is the battery meter, HAXX’s healthbar. Here’s a neat feature: when you swipe across the battery meter, a map appears enabling you to pan across the entire level so you know what you’re up against. It’s something I’d like to see adopted in other platformers. In the upper right-hand corner is the tool dial. Every tool and weapon that acquired will appear here, which you can scroll, select and appear in the weapons/tool button that correspondingly appears in the lower right-hand corner. If using d-pad controls, they appear in the bottom left corner. On the right side is the aforementioned weapon/tool and jump buttons. Also a metal gear icon appears which you tap to interact with items such as sign posts, portals and recharging stations.

As with any platformer, HAXX will be doing his share of jumping, swinging, and shooting. The gameplay delivers the expected fun gameplay as you encounter different enemies including beehives, sharks, banana-throwing apes, and underwater creatures among others in the each of the vibrantly colored environments. There are also checkpoints throughout the game, which are basically smiley faces that pop up and save your progress.

I do have an issue with the way the weapon/tool dial is set up. Part of the problem is that some of the action is continuous, and I found myself in situations where I need to rotate weapons quickly, but struggling to scroll through numerous weapons one after the other. You do get used to it, but at the same time, if you’re on a steep hill for example and need to switch from a grappling hook to a weapon, you’ll need to keep your finger on the d-pad, while scrolling through the dial, and then finally getting close enough to the target to operate the weapon. Having a jump button on the opposite from the d-pad controls also doesn’t feel right when an upward pointing arrow integrated with the d-pad would make more sense. With that said, the controls work fine, but I can’t help but feel that they aren’t laid out in the most efficient way.

Overall, the gameplay in iDroids is typical of what you would find in a platformer. While the game doesn’t offer any innovations in gameplay, the storyline and graphics look great and should make this entertaining for those who want a fun platformer.

Albie Meter: 4 stars (recommended but I suggest you try the lite version first to make sure you can deal with the controls)

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