Naught’s good controls might make you jump for joy

Sep 7, 2011
Games

If you’re on the fence about whether the accelerometer makes for a worthwhile iPhone game controller, Naught should clear you up, one way or another. As a platform “jumping” puzzle game with no attack button (similar to Xbox Live arcade hit Limbo), Naught lives and dies on its control. Making things a good bit more […]

If you’re on the fence about whether the accelerometer makes for a worthwhile iPhone game controller, Naught should clear you up, one way or another. As a platform “jumping” puzzle game with no attack button (similar to Xbox Live arcade hit Limbo), Naught lives and dies on its control.

Making things a good bit more interesting, the main gameplay trick in Naught is that there is no gravity. Your character, with the tilt of your iPhone, can walk on the ceiling or be pulled in any direction in the air. It’s an inventive way to control a character, but the learning curve is immediately steep. By just the second puzzle, you’ll encounter a puzzle that requires the player to float in numerous directions, one after another, or find death by spikes. After failing numerous times, I managed to find a secret passage and skirted the issue entirely. I’m not sure if that was the point of the level, but if it wasn’t, even longtime gamers will have trouble beating portions of this game.

And therein lies the rub. It seems true that Naught would be much easier to control if you had a digital d-pad to help you maneuver, but I’m not sure that would make it a better game. Because its challenge is so closely tied to how well you can manipulate the anti-gravity accelerometer-based controls, the frustration felt by twitchy iPhone twisting could rightfully be called a key gameplay mechanic and not a bad design decision.

I mentioned Limbo earlier as a cousin in minimalist gaming controls, but Naught also borrows a bit from the console title visually. While the black-and-white visuals in Naught feel more “Spy Vs. Spy” than the haunting, hazy emptiness of Limbo’s world, there’s certainly some level of debt owed here. Naught is further proof you don’t need a vibrant color palette to make an interesting world to run around in.

Whether you favor accelerometer controls or not, Naught can be a very difficult game at times. The difference in whether that frustration will keep you playing or throwing the app away minutes into downloading it is probably more a matter of taste than a mark on the quality of the game. But if you want something a little different from the usual, Naught is worth a closer look.

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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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