SWARM! feels like it’s made up of equal parts Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog. The racer has players tearing through the city of Ball-timore (and other ball-friendly locales), collecting coins, avoiding enemies, and racing to the exit… all using motion controls.
In a game this quick-moving, and with the still-not-quite-familiar-to-everyone gyroscopic tilting capabilities of the iPad, the ability to have fun hinges entirely on one thing: its controls. Developer E4 Software claims on the App Store to have “precision tilt controls” with a solid accelerometer design to keep the action fast, but also still firmly under your control. The question is, does SWARM! deliver?
Having a Ball
Having played through the game’s 8 story levels and sampled its 20 QuickPlay levels, I can definitely say SWARM! is on the “firm” side of things. Your character can slow down quickly, turn almost on a dime, and take into account even slight motions to creep forward if necessary. The game’s levels are primarily built for speed, but there are a couple of sections that require a more careful approach, such as navigating narrow sewer paths above toxic slime. For those who may be worried about shaking and slinging their iPads around, however, there is also an option to change the tilt controls to touch controls.
While the controls feel more solid after the initial getting-to-know-you period, the biggest gripe I had with SWARM! was in regards to its camera. This is a game that absolutely needs a fixed camera since you can’t control both your frantic speed and where the camera’s pointing at the same time. In the first few levels, however, there were occasions where the camera changed so that the level looked like a side-scrolling game, hindering your ability to see what’s coming ahead of you. If you’re pushing for speed records or high coin totals, this can be very frustrating, as you’ll need to memorize the layout of the level. Thankfully, the sections where the camera changes are few and brief.
The game’s few story levels also left me bit wanting, but it’s obvious E4 has other levels planned for later release. Unfortunately, though there’s nothing to indicate if they’ll be available as free updates or if E4 plans on making them purchasable DLC later.
Overall, SWARM! is an interesting and quirky, fast-pace level-racing and platforming game, but still feels a little short for its $1.99 price tag. If more levels are released quickly and for free, however, it has the potential to be quite a worthwhile purchase for speed freaks.
- Release date: January 3, 2013
- Genre: Racing, Platforming
- Platform: iPad
- Developer: E4 Software
- Publisher: E4 Software
- ESRB Rating: N/A (iTunes rating: 4+)
- MSRP: $1.99
Our Score: 3.5 / 5
Reviewer’s note: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.