Game Reviews

Ozone HD

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| Ozone HD
Ozone HD
| Ozone HD

Climatologists have incontrovertible evidence that the outermost layer of our atmosphere has been eroding for decades. Holes in the ozone have expanded at an alarming rate, while civilisation and its impact on the environment continues to increase exponentially.

The issues that characterise Ozone HD are nowhere near as grave, yet a rudimentary parallel can be drawn between the up-scaling of this iPhone original and the widening holes in our skies.

Quirks that could be written off on iPhone have become glaring inadequacies on iPad and the demands of a larger system introduce new concerns. While the game remains playable, Ozone HD depletes itself with this unpolished port.

Tap to live, tilt to die

In spite of such a heavy introduction, Ozone HD is light fare. Guiding an airy sphere through 50-plus levels of top-down platforming action is your goal, with each set of levels tied to an environmental theme.

Ethereal Earth, fiery Vulcan, fluid Ocean, and expansive Space - these simple themes have been brought to life with beautifully detailed levels bursting with colour and style.

Although Ozone HD may appear like one in a sea of ball-rolling games, it's actually not controlled with the accelerometer. On the contrary, taps of a stationary analogue stick propel your air sphere.

Momentum is key, because as you move air is lost and your sphere shrinks. A gauge at the top of the screen lets you know how much air remains, acting much like a health gauge.

Presentation is the game's strongest point. It's not just pretty, but easily the best iPhone-to-iPad conversion to date. Either developer Geardome thought ahead and created high-resolution assets when working on the iPhone version or they're masterful engineers able to up-scale with minimal loss in visual quality. Whatever the case, Ozone HD is one fine-looking game.

Grasping air

You can tell that by just looking at screenshots, though you should also be able to identify one of the game's flaws the same way. Notice the position of the analogue stick and buttons: high and centre.

While it's fine to recommend a default control scheme, Ozone HD offers no options for customising the interface. You're stuck with this uncomfortable setup and there's no reason it should be this way. The ability to reposition the buttons anywhere on the screen would improve playability greatly.

There are other problems, one in particular regarding the game design as originally conceived for iPhone. Weapons used to eliminate enemies such as radial saw blades and wall-mounted turrets are either automatically activated - as is the case with lightning - or actively triggered with a tap - as with the plasma cannon. Shots are annoyingly tied to your direction of movement, which makes for cumbersome aiming.

Scattered clouds

While the level design is generally quite good, a few stages that felt unfair on iPhone are glaringly so here on iPad. Excessively tight corridors lined with spikes and enemies capable of grabbing your sphere with a tractor beam create frustrating moments. Fortunately, these instances are few and far between and the whole of Ozone HD is a blast to play.

That's only if you manage to avoid a crippling bug that results in save data disappearing or the rare crash to the home screen. After experiencing the former once, it never appeared again thankfully.

Still, such a flaw is emblematic of a game that hasn't been thoroughly optimised for iPad. Consider the unpolished controls and lack of options along with it and Ozone HD has seemingly depleted the gains made by its lovely presentation and satisfyingly straightforward gameplay.

Ozone HD

Unpolished controls and technical snags take the wind out of pretty top-down platformer Ozone HD