Silverfish for iPhone a great catch for gamers

Nov 28, 2010
Games

Put simply, Silverfish ($1.99) is in the running for my favorite iPhone game of 2010. It is a mix of classic arcade games like Centipede, which is mixed with a bit of Pac-Man, and includes fantastic visual and lighting effects to top the package off. You play Silverfish as the titular character, sliding around on […]

Put simply, Silverfish ($1.99) is in the running for my favorite iPhone game of 2010. It is a mix of classic arcade games like Centipede, which is mixed with a bit of Pac-Man, and includes fantastic visual and lighting effects to top the package off.

You play Silverfish as the titular character, sliding around on the game board while dozens of enemies try to attack you. Your enemies have names like “Glider,” “Speeder” and “Dozer,” but they basically look like bed bugs and other weird tiny insects.

Much like in Pac-Man, these tiny things will stop at nothing to attack you. Unlike Pac-Man, because you’re not stuck within the confines of a puzzle, you simply have to avoid their touch and grab the bombs, which are scattered on the field. Touching the bombs sends shrapnel out in the direction you touched it. If the shrapnel hits the bugs, they die and you’re safe. You can then collect the little pellets they leave behind to increase your score or your health, depending on the game mode. Bugs keep coming more aggressively, and in greater numbers, until you finally bite the dust.

Silverfish has three game modes, each of which are slight variations on each other. In one mode, a single touch kills the player, who is given three lives and a few bombs that immediately clear out all enemies.

In another mode, the player has a full life meter that drains gradually over time, as well as when they’re hit by a bug. Grabbing the pellets the bugs leave behind refills the meter.

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The third mode gives players a life meter that’s only half full. Grabbing the “bombs” from the first mode now serves to fill the meter up. When the meter is completely full, the player becomes invincible briefly and can eat enemies.

Each mode presents its own challenges, but is also just familiar enough from the last that it doesn’t feel strange to jump into any of the three at any point. Kudos to developer Frank Condello for finding a way to take a simple formula and extend it in any way possible.

Visually, Silverfish looks great. The world, the bugs and the silverfish character all have a very unique look to them. Everything in the game has a sort of neon glow that feels futuristic, but not in a silly way. This feels like a distinctly modern-looking iPhone game.

Players control their silverfish by swiping across the iPhone. At first, this feels rather unnatural, as it necessitates that you create lines for your silverfish to run in, but after a few early deaths, the movement quickly becomes second nature. It’s actually freeing to not need to swipe exactly where you need to go. Instead, players can simply swipe up and their silverfish will move up on the screen from where they currently are.

Certainly, Silverfish doesn’t recreate iPhone games as we know them. Its gameplay is a mix of some tried-and-true formulas that are more than 30 years old; but it executes these formulas extremely well. That, combined with some fantastic visuals, makes this a timeless app in its own right. Silverfish is a must-own iPhone game.

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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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