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History of the World (iPhone) Review

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Have you ever wanted Asteroids on the iPhone? Well, the couldn't-be-less-aptly-named History of the World is about as close as you're going to get. If that really is what you're looking for and you weren't just playing along with my poor excuse for a segue into this review, it's perhaps because of the shortcomings of the platform that Asteroids hasn't yet been accurately recreated on the iPhone. Again though, this game, as simple and reaction-based as it is compared to the classic arcade game, is about as close as anyone's gotten. The concept is very interesting and the game is genuinely funny at points. It's just too bad that certain design decisions and control issues keep this game from being as good as it could have otherwise been.

As the game starts, the earth, perpetually spinning ridiculously fast in the center of the screen, has just formed. From that point, time passes by in hundreds of millions of years every few seconds. The way the earth has thus far developed in real life though, means nothing happens for a very long time, and then everything suddenly happens seemingly all at once. You as the player, aren't doing anything to control this process, as the game you're playing has nothing to do with the history of anything. While the earth forms and evolves over time, it's your job as god...or something...to keep the relentlessly aggressive asteroids hurtling toward the earth from destroying it. The only real control issue the game has comes in here. The hit boxes on the asteroids are such that with you'll be left literally stabbing some of the faster or smaller ones over and over with your finger in a fruitless attempt to get the game to recognize that you're destroying it. A lot of the inaccuracy comes from the asteroids being far smaller than your finger. This means that by attempting to destroy them, you're effectively blinding yourself to whether or not that attempt succeeded. I can think of many ways to fix this issue, but as it is, the game is nearly unplayable later in the game or on the hardest difficulty where asteroids are hurtling towards the earth fast and furious, from every direction.

History of the World iPhone Review

I couldn't help feeling like the developer struggled for a long time to figure out something, anything, for the player to do while the earth does what it does. Your one bit of interaction with this process comes at certain points in the game where it's actually to your advantage to let an asteroid hit the earth and wipe out all life. For example, if the dinosaurs aren't destroyed by you letting an asteroid hit the earth, they quickly evolve into humanasaurs (what?) and promptly destroy the earth along with themselves regardless of any attempt made by you to stop that from happening. Keeping that in mind, the game becomes sort of a puzzle of trying to figure out when to let an asteroid destroy everything in a way that would make any science fiction movie villain proud. On the other hand, this method of progression also makes the game's lives system a detriment. At the beginning, you're given as many as five or as few as three (based on difficulty) “lives” and you lose one every time an asteroid gets through your finger-based defenses. If you make it far into the game without the earth being destroyed and you need to wipe out all life to save it, you're basically screwed if you happen not to have any lives left. That's more of a minor complaint though.

My main problem with History of the World is that any time anything at all happens, you're met with both an in-game message explaining what just happened and pausing the game, along with a Facebook prompt. At first, this is just mildly annoying. Around the time Dinosaurs show up and stuff happens every few seconds though, these dual-game interruptions become extremely aggravating. At one point, I actually found myself screaming at the game to “STFU!” Unfortunate design decisions aside, History of the World with a roughly five minute game length, can be a fun distraction when you don't have a lot of time to get into something with more depth. If you can get past its issues, it can be a lot of fun trying to figure out how and when to destroy all life on earth in order to keep the planet around as long as possible.








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