Review: Field System/Route24 Newtonica
Company: Field System/Route24
Compatible: iPod touch, iPhone, iPhone 3G
Last month, there was Radius. a slick game with a spinning globe at the center of the screen. This month, we have Newtonica ($5) by Field System/Route24, another game with a spinning globe at the center of the screen. This time, rather than destroying targets on the globe's face, you're trying to rotate the globe to make sure that falling colored gems land on matching colored parts of its surface.
Not surprisingly, this is handled by touching the globe and spinning it around, which is the only real command you need to know; however, a pinch gesture can zoom the ball out further to give you a little extra warning before the gems fall. You can’t zoom in any more than the screenshots here show to be possible, and probably shouldn’t, as the only clues you have about where they gems will fall are colored shadows on the ball’s surface.
As you progress, the gems keep falling faster and more at a time, and you have to spin the ball faster to keep matches happening. Between 7 and 10 successful matches will ratchet up the pace, giving you a meter with 3 additional life bars to squander with unsuccessful matches; every failed match removes a life bar. Occasionally, a yellow rubber duck will cross the screen to be touched as a distraction, as well. Some unimpressive techno-ish music provides ambience of sorts as you’re playing.
It should be mentioned that Newtonica has a surprising pedigree. The designer worked on two Nintendo GameCube games, Giftopia and Chibi-Robo, and the sound developer Kenji Eno was famous for his work at a much-hyped Japanese company called Warp, which turned out titles that received a lot of press but didn’t do especially well after release. Other than the game’s minimalist stylishness, which borrows heavily from Radius, and the press release touting its background, you’d never know that it was created by anyone famous.
Simply put, Newtonica is a slightly more frenzied and less classy version of Radius, the sort of title that feels like a neat demo rather than something worth paying $5 for. Given that it’s more expensive than Radius and less impressive, we’d consider it a “pass” for now, but should the developers expand the gameplay and improve the music—steps Radius’s developers are taking while lowering the price to $1—they could have something worthwhile on their hands.