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New Orbit

One of the great things about the rise of touchscreen gaming is the avalanche of original game ideas that have come out of it. Now, I can't say that New Orbit is a completely new game design, but it does bring its own elements to the table, and is packaged into a game that simply doesn't have a peer. Or at least one that I have played.

New Orbit is one of the more unique games I've played on iOS. You play as a shuttle pilot stranded out in deep space after his mothership met a rather nasty ending deep behind enemy lines. Your goal, of course, is to return to your home system in one piece. This is much easier said than done, for more than one reason. The game's controls are simple and manageable to learn, but difficult to master. As the game uses Newtonian physics, you accelerate your ship simply by holding your finger in the direction that you want to go. Of course, just doing this won't make you go in that direction if you are currently moving. You have to take into account the direction you are currently moving in as well as your velocity. And that's just moving from Point A to Point B. Wait until you start doing missions that require you to maintain an orbit.

The game wouldn't be titled New Orbit for nothing. Several of the missions that you encounter will require you to establish orbits around asteroids and other large interstellar objects. When doing this, you have to take many different factors into account, especially your velocity and direction in relation to the size and gravity of the object. Some smaller asteroids aren't that difficult to establish orbits around, but some of the larger ones with high gravity can be a complete pain. Not that it isn't fun, though. The challenge gives a nice feel of what it might be like trying to put an object into orbit, even if you're only using a 2D playing field.

The graphics are nothing special, but really don't have to be considering the scope of the game. They are definitely serviceable and have some nice touches to them. The same would also apply to the audio, which mostly consists of the voice-acting of the shuttle pilot as well as a few others. Considering that the developer, Blackish Games, is essentially a one man operation, I think what's there is definitely most impressive.

What isn't impressive, however, is the lack of content for a game that costs $1.99 from the App Store. Just when the game really is coming into its own, it ends. In fact, there's so little here that it essentially feels like you're playing a demo of a game that may someday arrive. There is only around an hour or so of content so far, and possibly less if you've played it through already and don't have to repeat missions. The game holds a lot of promise, but it's difficult to recommend paying for what amounts to a game demo. Although more content is promised, it has been over a year since it was first released, with no additional content whatsoever. If you're looking for a fun and unique game, I can recommend giving it a try, but only if you don't mind paying more than $1.00 per hour of content.


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