Orbital: The Perfect iPhone Game

I’ve got a lot of games on my phone: 20 different tower defense games (wow, that can’t be right, can it?), my US RDA of match-three games, three Flight Control-style path-drawing games (oh, Aqua Globs, thank you for adding two new maps today), a handful of artillery games (iShoot is so close to Scorched Earth, it hurts), four—wait, really?—four pinball games? WTF. I don’t even like pinball in real life.

Lately, though, I’ve been playing just one game, which looks to be pretty much the perfect iPhone game: Orbital.

Orbital Field

Orbital presents you with a large, empty field. At the bottom, you have a little cannon that oscillates back and forth, rhythmically sweeping its bore like a windshield wiper across the field. When you tap the screen, the cannon fires a shot. When the shot hits an obstacle or a wall, it bounces off. While it moves, the shot loses momentum and slows down. When the shot stops, it expands radially until its perimeter hits an obstacle, at which point the shot becomes a new obstacle itself, with the number 3 in the center. When such a circle is hit by another shot, the number in the center—a counter—decrements. When the counter reaches zero, the circle vanishes and you score a point. If the fired shot comes back across a boundary at the bottom of the screen, just above your cannon, you lose. Optionally, the circles may distort the playing field like heavy masses gravitationally distort space, affecting the fired shot’s path.

Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it?

Here’s why this game is awesome:

Orbital Field, Shot Fired

1. It’s simple. See above; that’s the entirety of the game. Those are all the rules.

2. It’s gorgeous. The graphics consist of neon lines and colorful particle effects. They’re 100% pure visual candy.

3. There’s a single control. One. Uno. Ichi. Eins. The Chinese word for “one.” Just tap the screen anywhere—anywhere at all—to fire a shot. You simply wait for the cannon to swing back to whatever position is best for firing a shot, then you tap the screen. Done.

4. It’s quick. A typical game lasts around a minute if you’re good. Ten seconds is more like it sometimes. This means you can actually play a complete game while waiting in line for your gyro. Hell, you can probably play a half-dozen games. Because…

5. No load time between games. When you tap New Game, you get the new game immediately. When the game ends, you can tap the screen to get the menu immediately, and from there, you can tap the New Game button again.

That’s it. Extremely simple gameplay. Gorgeous graphics. Quick games with no load times between. It’s the perfect portable game. You can sit there all day, pushing a single button, getting immediate, awesome visual feedback. It’s the perfect game.

Also, it has a cool robot voice.

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