Games can always surprise you, but in the age of the smartphone there are three rules that, if broken at the start of a game, indicate that what follows is likely to be a total stinker.

For one, it's best to keep the controls simple, but diluting the challenge in pursuit of simplicity is a big no-no. Most importantly, you have to avoid overloading the game with a needlessly fussy set of rules.

Collision Effect passes this test with flying colours. From controls to goals, this is the kind of puzzler perfectly suited to touchscreen play, serving up the type of challenge you can understand in seconds, but can also foul up just as swiftly.

Not-so puzzling puzzler

Stripped of any sense of plot or background story, Collision Effect launches you straight into the action. Your task is to group together coloured orbs – zybbles as they're called – by touching them. Any contact immediately gravitates all the matching orbs on the map towards the zybble in question, with avoiding any collisions between opposing orbs the dividing line between success and failure.

Just how quickly this all takes place, however, depends on the mode you're playing. In the game's Action mode, things are frenzied, with orbs streaming on screen from all sides and colliding at pace.

Here, Collision Effect echoes line-drawing hit Flight Control, where your reactions and the ability to spot any potential clashes between different coloured orbs are pushed to the limit.

Brains versus brawn

There are perks to keep you on board during your run, of course. Zybbles bursting with fire, for instance, blow up all orbs when activated, while others bolster your points tally, shield orbs from collisions, or slow down time to make things a mite more manageable.

In true arcade style, the first contact between opposing orbs is enough to bring the game to an end, which means your demise is only a matter of time.

Conversely, Puzzle mode brings a more considered approach to this barebones setup. Here, the goal of linking up matching orbs remains intact, but zybbles are entirely stagnant until you bless them with your touch.

Cracking the code is a question of deciding in just which order the different coloured orbs should be set off, the resulting collisions – as in Action mode – turning the screen into a veritable fireworks display.

Short and sweet

A firework is, in actual fact, just what Collision Effect represents. It's not the kind of puzzle game that takes up large portions of your evening, but its no-nonsense approach means it's able to burn especially brightly in short bursts.

Visually, Collision Effect is every part post Geometry Wars – its graphics are much akin to fellow Chillingo release Infinity Field. Like the rest of the retro-esque rabble, this is a game where lasting as long as you can and building up the biggest points total possible is your one and only goal.

It all proves that, while the games of the iPhone generation have their own creeds and codes to abide by, there's still a valid place for those classic titles that foster nothing more than an urge to rack up a high score.