The title and that screenshot pretty much sum up the game. There’s you (the white arrow), the dots, a whole bunch of other crap going on, and you are tilting to live.

I’ll get my complaints out of the way early cause in the end they’re fairly minor. One isn’t a huge deal, but it does become an issue from time to time. That your arrow is white is fine…except you can become obscured at times, like in those explosions, or under the message overlays. This is a big no no in terms of shooter1 design, the player should never lose sight of his ship. This could be fixed by making the ship the highest object and some color swapping on certain backgrounds, the latter is already done for the lightning powerup.

Which brings me to my next complaint, unlocking2. All this crap should be unlocked at the start, particularly a high score focused game like this, everyone should be on a level playing field. It’s unfair to players just starting since in all likelihood they won’t be getting the real highs until they unlock everything, and it’s kind of pointless busywork in a sense to start the game. I wouldn’t mind if they were unlocked at consistent points per game (like at x points/minutes/whatever this powerup would show up), since at least it’d be the same for everyone. All that said, I unlocked everything pretty quickly, which is why I’m not complaining even more about it.

On to the game mechanics. You tilt the device to move around, it has three position presets along with one custom calibration. The only one that seems to work really well is top down though. The red dots appear in different formations, some randomly in the field, some along the walls, some in certain formations. Their movement patterns are targeted or along a set path, and they can regroup into other formations such as arrows (that target you), or paddles and a ball like the old arcade and Atari classic, Pong. The number and density increase as time goes on, scoring higher may increase the rank (difficulty) as well.

The weapons are triggered by running into them…I don’t know the official names but you’ll get the gist of it here. The base weapons are:

  • Bomb – circular explosion
  • Missiles – four or five homing shots, they seem to have a limited chain explosion effect that can take out a few at a time (like Missile Command)
  • Purple arrow – big purple blast that shoots out shortly after you pick it up

While the unlockable weapons are (in no particular order):

  • Ice – freezes dots within it’s radius but does not destroy them, running into them or other weapons work to kill them
  • Bubble shield – green bubble bomb, same size as the bomb, detonates when a dot touches it (but not frozen ones)
  • Vortex – starts a three second countdown once triggered, then creates a black hole and sucks dots and items in the vicinity
  • Spike shield – lets you ram into dots, dots try to run away
  • Electricity – any adjacent dots to ones you touch will become electrocuted, big chains or clumps like in the screenshot are prime candidates for electrocution

There are always three weapons on screen at a time, once one goes away another pops up in place. They don’t stay on screen forever, they eventually disappear and a new one shows up. I’m not really sure how scoring works other than knowing that the combo matters a lot. While the name of the game is Tilt to Live, the mentality I have while playing is Tilt to Kill.

…partially because the game would be pretty boring for the first minute or two if I didn’t. This isn’t a knock on the design as much as it is a request for a time attack mode3. To get a really high score (like top 10) it takes over five minutes, it took me six or seven to break 11 million (8th at that time) for example. While fun, at a certain point it becomes an endurance test as much as it is just a pure gameplay challenge.

Time attacks can equalize the field a bit and focus the action. Make it one or two minutes of hell.¬†Start the rank up high to get right into the meat of the game and keep it coming until time’s up. It’d be hard enough that you still have to worry about survival, but short enough that anyone could believe that they could go the distance, and with the limit it makes the action of scoring that much more important and intense.

Oh the game has awards or achievements or whatever too if you’re into that sort of thing.4

All in all I’d give it a high rating, if I had a rating system in place here. In place of that I’ll say that I hate tilt controls, but love Tilt to Live. Getting me to like a game with tilt is a miraculous feat.

…just don’t ruin it with pointless crap for mindless sheep.5

Tilt to Live

  1. It’s not really a standard shooter in any sense, however it does share the basic bullet dodging mechanic so at least some of the same rules apply.
  2. I consider this type of unlocking along the lines of the upgrades I raged on about a few days ago…there’s just no point for it here! It feels like a way to artificially extend the gameplay, particularly when the gameplay itself is pretty pure like it is here, it just isn’t needed. I fear it’ll lead to people wanting more upgrades to satiate their need for something new without realizing it could screw up the balance and in a way, create incomparable sets of scores.
  3. aka caravan mode. I’ll be covering the awesomeness of the caravan in it’s own post.
  4. Achievements will get their own post. And not even remotely in a good way. DOS, Windows, Comic Sans, ACHIEVEMENTS…YOU BASTARDS!
  5. Unless the mindless sheep demand a caravan mode!