Jailbreak: Voice Onrush iPhone game like Pac-man with ugly pixels

Mar 15, 2010
Games

The iPhone game Jailbreak: Voice Onrush (99 cents) has an admittedly cool concept. It takes the maze element of a game like Pac-Man and puts real characters and minor objectives into the mazes. No, you don’t play a man with an overeating compulsion who has to swallow the contents of an entire room to survive. Instead, you’re […]

The iPhone game Jailbreak: Voice Onrush (99 cents) has an admittedly cool concept. It takes the maze element of a game like Pac-Man and puts real characters and minor objectives into the mazes.

No, you don’t play a man with an overeating compulsion who has to swallow the contents of an entire room to survive. Instead, you’re a nearly faceless character, named only by your initials, who has to find items located in a maze and then find the exit to the maze. For instance, initially you’re looking for easy-to-find keycards. The stakes are raised as the game continues, but that core game play mechanic remains.

The Pac-Man comparison becomes even more apt when you consider you’re chased by similarly nameless bad guys who end the level if they touch you. One of the more frustrating aspects of Jailbreak is that unlike the well-mannered Pac-Man ghosts, these baddies tend to pop out of the ether to try and attack you. You’re character has a sort of glowing perimeter around him that is supposed to illuminate the enemy, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly effective, as I was killed off numerous times by an antagonist who appeared just a step in front of me.

If you are spotted by these half-invisible men, they’ll give chase to your character and you’ll spend a few minutes running around evading them on the way to your end-of-level destination. The chases can be somewhat exhilarating, but controlling characters in an iPhone game is an imprecise science that doesn’t lend itself very well to deftly evading an attacker. To the credit of the developers Omni Xtudio Pte Ltd, the iPhone game has controls tailored to the iPhone. You’re given the option of using the touch screen to pull your character around, the accelerometer to slide him, or the more classic virtual joystick. None of the options work perfectly, but users should appreciate the choice.

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Visually, this is a terrible-looking iPhone game. The closest comparison I can make is to “The Emo Game,” an online Flash game that I remember first playing more than six years ago. The characters are blocky and over-pixilated, which I feel had to be a conscious design choice, because there are lots of sharp looking iPhone games in the iTunes App Store. If so, that was a bad choice.

Even if you really go crazy for maze puzzles, there’s too much wrong here to wholeheartedly recommend Jailbreak. Jailbreak is much better in concept than in execution, at least for now.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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