Sep 18, 2010


Like so many games, SketchWars includes the names of two immensely successful games in its Market description in an attempt to ride on their coat tails. In this case it's the arcade classic 'Asteroids' and the XBLA hit 'Geometry Wars'. I'm surprised 'doodle' wasn't used in the game's title as that's the graphical style of this game and I thought that, too, was in vogue. The reality is that, while the game may have similarities to both of these games, the control scheme makes it feel like something quite different for better and worse.

SketchWars is a simple, arcade shooter with cute pencil and paper style graphics in which you play as the tip of a pen (I think) and have to destroy an infinite onslaught of enemies. You move around a piece of paper via tilting your smartphone, but be careful. If you go too far and fall off of the edge of the paper you're done for. Shooting is done by tapping where you want to fire. Destroying enemies sometimes results in the release of some little pellets that you can collect that act as score multipliers. Some enemies become blots on the page and you have to drag down the eraser to blot them out. The game offers four difficulty levels and also sports global leader boards so that you can complete against the world.

The doodle style graphics are done well and sound effects, such as the destruction of an enemy, are cued perfectly. There's no background music to mention that might add to or detract from the game. The controls are accurate and there is an option that will allow you to adjust the sensitivity of the tilt, although the default worked well for me. The big problem is that whenever I fire at an enemy I'm also blocking the screen with my big, fat hand and there's more than enough action for that to be a big problem. This game is already hard and it doesn't need that kind of external interference. How to address that? I don't know. Part of the charm of this game is how easy it is to fire by tapping anywhere so that just becomes part of the game albeit a frustrating part.
In conclusion, at 0.99 euros (about $1.30) this game is definitely worth it and would be a fine arcade addition to any Android game collection. It's challenging, well done, and the online leader boards ensure that you know you've got a ways to go in order to consider yourself a competent player. One thing I did that I felt helped a bit with the issue of blocking the screen when I fire was to play the game in sideways mode and use both thumbs to fire. Unfortunately, that won't work with the blotter and the razor as they are just on one side. 4/5 stars.

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