The miniature space ship guided by your thumbs in Bit Pilot is like a puppy trying to scamper across a busy highway.

It's diminutive, utterly adorable, and sure to get run over by a speeding object. Inevitable death makes for morbidly exciting gameplay, as though the game has been taken off a leash to run wildly into intergalactic traffic.

With a flurry of asteroids of all sizes coming at you from every angle, avoiding impact is your sole objective. It's so straightforward that the game cannot be labelled as anything other than basic.

Pills that randomly float across the screen can be nabbed for extra points and to augment your shields, which naturally increase your defence in the case you bump into an asteroid or laser beam.

Pulls like gravity

Bit Pilot travels a familiar course with its survival gameplay, yet the manner in which it's presented makes this old formula fresh on iPhone and iPod touch. Pixelated asteroids flying across the screen boost the game's nostalgic appeal, while its on-pitch bit tunes send it into overdrive.

There's nothing pretentious about it - unlike so many titles that try too hard to earn retro gaming credibility, there's a genuine vibe here.

Challenging gameplay further supports its credibility. Games last only a matter of minutes - if that - before your pilot has his parts strewn across the cosmos. Bit Pilot comes with only two modes of play, Easy and Normal, each of which tinkers with the number of asteroids that crowd the screen.

There's no substantive difference in the rules between the two levels of difficulty and this limitation on the game's variety serves as its greatest weakness.

Yet, Bit Pilot has a way of pulling you back for more of its admittedly repetitive action because its quick bursts of gameplay fulfil the need for momentary distraction. The drive to post high scores may not compel you to play at great length, but it's effective at encouraging you to squeeze a desperate run or two when you have a second to spare.