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iPhone game review: Dizzy Bee (Updated!)


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#1 Crunchewy

Crunchewy

Posted 21 July 2008 - 12:02 PM

I don't know if anyone else has gotten addicted to iPhone/iPod Touch AppStore, but I thought I'd give a short review of one for-pay game that is absolutely worth the purchase price, and that price is only $2.99: Dizzy Bee (App Store link <-- NOTE: clicking this will launch iTunes and take you to the Dizzy Bee page in the iTunes AppStore)

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Dizzy Bee is controlled entirely by tilting and rotating your iPod. You are a very round bee that you move by tilting/rotating, and, for some reason, you have to pick up fruits and vegetables that are locked in squares, which you do by bumping into them. One fruit/veg will stick to you and roll with you (and also acts as protection in that if you are hit by an enemy that fruit will get squashed instead of you), and any others will roll around separately. Everything moves like it is underwater (a bee under water?). The fruits are different shapes and they roll like those shapes woud roll. So a round shaped fruit will roll smoothly, while an elliptical shaped fruit will tumble. They also tend to get jammed up in narrow gaps, which then requires you to unjam them by strategic titling/turning.

Your goal is to unlock the fruits/veges and get them (and yourself) to the goal circle. You're hampered in that goal by different kinds of enemies and obstacles. If an enemy touches a fruit/veg it squashes it and if it touches you (when not holding a fruit/veg) you die and have to try again. There are no lives, so you won't have to start completely over ever, you just have to retry the current level. Some types of enemies are only sometimes bad, so you can try to get through sections by rolling by them only when they are safe. Others are always bad and have to be avoided at all times. Most of the enemies simply roll around as you tilt/rotate the screen, just like you, while some move on their own. There can be walls, doors, switches, water jets, transporters, water wheels and other things that you have to navigate your way around while avoiding the enemies. There are also flowers to collect distributed throughout the playing field as well as flowers that float around in bubbles.

Your score for a level is based on how many of the fruits and vegetables you save, how many of the flowers you collect, and how many of the fruits/veges you save at once (you get a better score for unlocking all the fruits and then getting them all to the goal together, which of course is harder.) Depending on your score you are awarded a star: bronze, silver, gold or gold with a crown. Getting enough "good stars" (which I presume means gold with a crown, or perhaps gold or better - I don't know) will unlock a hidden island, but I haven't managed that yet.

The levels are laid out in islands of 5 levels each. I think there are two worlds, or at least that's what I've seen so far, with each world having 4 islands. That makes 40 levels not counting the hidden islands. I might have some of these details wrong. For instance I remember reading about the hidden "island", but it might actually have said "hidden world". In fact the second world might be the hidden world. However I'm pretty sure it said hidden island. I'm not sure if that means there is one hidden island per world or not. Initially only one island in world one is available. When you complete an island another island opens up.

The graphics are really great, though I'd also have to say "cute" (hey - it's called "Dizzy Bee", so of course it's going to look cute!), which I realize might turn some off, but I love the style. The sounds are simple, but fun and high quality. There are nice touches like how the menus and dialogs rotate so they are upright, in a wobbly fashion, depending on how the screen is oriented. The level of challenge is just about perfect for me. The levels in the second world are much more challenging then the ones in the first world, but getting all gold crowns is a substantial challenge even in the first world. There are three save slots so you can share the game, and the game automatically saves its state whenever you quit, so you can resume right where you left off without having to do anything.

One thing I was worried about was if the headphone cord would get in the way while playing it seeing how you are rotating the screen, sometimes completely over, while playing, but in practice I find that it isn't a problem.

The only criticisms I have of the game are pretty minor. One thing is that the game does not like it if you hold your iPod/iPhone too flat. At first you'll see a dim "!" icon appear in the middle of the screen, getting brighter the more flat you hold the iPod, and if you hold it flat too long it pops up a dialogue warning you to not hold it too flat. At first I wasn't even sure why it cared, but it has since occurred to me - if you are holding it too flat, then when you rotate the screen I believe it will not be able to tell which way is up (relative to you) nor tell exactly how you have rotated it, and thus it might react in an unexpected way. Still, I tend to think that this dialogue is pretty unnecessary as I've never had a situation where the game seemed to react strangely, and the tendency is to keep it upright most of the time, only tilting forward/back to achieve some specific movement, after which you tip it back up again. Hopefully a future update will make the dialogue only come up once and then not show again. I don't find that I get this dialogue much (I've only had it appear three or four times total), so it's not a big deal either way.

The other criticism, and this is unfortunately a common one in the current crop of iPod touch/iPhone games, is that there is no volume control within the game. I suspect this isn't an issue with the iPhone since it has physical volume buttons, but the iPod touch (which is what I have) doesn't have them. You can adjust the volume by starting some music on your iPod and setting the volume, and then launch the game, but that, of course, is a nuisance. I hope they'll address that need in a future update.

Anyway, I heartily recommend Dizzy Bee. It's a great looking and playing game that utilizes the motion and tilt sensing of the iPod touch/iPhone to make a unique and fun game, and it only cost $2.99. Definitely a bargain.

UPDATE: I wrote in the review that you could set the volume by first setting it within the iPod music player, but I've since found out that this has no effect on the volume of the game. So Dizzy Bee has no volume control at all. Hopefully they'll add a volume slider in a future update. Like in MotionX Poker, you can play your own music by bringing up the music controller and resuming playback there, but doing so turns off sound effects/music within the game, so it isn't ideal. Lastly, I can now verify that the hidden island is opened up by having enough gold or better scores. Actually, the hidden island levels each have an increasing gold score requirement, so you can find the island and only find one level available, with the others locked, or what have you.

Edited by crunchewy, 23 July 2008 - 05:38 PM.
Changed one of the screenshots, for one that shows a squashed fruit and the "!" graphic

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