Forget-Me-Not, a cross between Pac-Man and Rogue-like titles from Nyarlu Games, is available from the app store. Mixing familiar gameplay elements with a slick retro style and simple controls makes for an unbelievably addictive experience that we cannot put down.
- Retro gaming mashup at its finest
- Procedurally-generated mazes that are never the same twice
- Three game modes
- Simple swipe controls
- Audio and visual components look great and complement each other well
- GameCenter leaderboards
- Universal app
- Controls are not as spot-on as hoped, especially when making tight turns
- No achievements to earn
Forget-Me-Not contains 3 game modes: Standard, Survival, and Shuffle. Standard sees you playing levels in sequential order, with 3 lives to start and the ability to earn additional lives for each 100 pieces of fruit that you collect. Survival plays like Standard but limits you to a single life and removes the ability to earn additional lives. Shuffle also plays like Standard by allowing you multiple lives but presents the levels to you randomly, so you may get tossed into a large level populated with a ridiculous number of enemies as easily as you’ll see a simple level that can be completed in under a minute with little threat from bad guys. Your character is a small white square who must maneuver through the maze-like levels, collecting flowers and a key that unlocks the door to the next level. The design is very reminiscent of Pac-Man, right down to the collectable fruit that appears when you destroy enemies. You have this destructive ability because you are constantly shooting in the direction that you are facing.
Level mazes are procedurally-generated, creating a different look every time. Like Pac-Man, any openings against one wall will be mirrored on the opposite side, allowing you to move from one side of the screen to the other instantly. This also means that the bullets shooting out of your face can travel the same way, wrapping around and shooting you from behind if you don’t get out of the way. Your own bullets can intercept each other, so shooting back at the wraparound bullets will eliminate them. Snagging the key from the level and dragging it behind you also offers protection, so it’s suggested you grab that quickly. Of course, you’ll have to fight off the enemies for the key, as they are fond of possessing it, too. The level exit door only appears once you have picked every flower from the level. You could rush to the door once you have the key, but patience will be rewarded with higher scores. Hanging out in a nearly-cleared level allows you to continue destroying enemies and gathering fruit to boost your score. You’ll occasionally encounter potions that can increase your firepower or restore your health, so you should nab these when you see them. You can also earn huge bonuses for collecting long unbroken chains of flowers, so planning out your initial moves is also crucial if you want to climb the leaderboards. If you hang out too long, a creepy ghost will appear, ignoring all maze walls while tracking you down and killing you simply by touching you. Once he appears, you’d better high-tail it out of there or collect enough flowers to kill him.
Enemies show good variation, in both look and strength/firepower. Some enemies shoot rapid fire bullets at you, while others do their damage by coming into contact with you. You’ll need to balance moving toward the enemies to attack and moving away to retreat to safety before attacking again. Other enemies include centipedes that are very difficult to kill, enemies that spawn additional enemies, and time bombs that are activated by shooting them and that are capable of blowing up walls that effectively change the maze layout. Some require multiple shots to kill, while others are easy to take down with just a shot or two. You can also destroy enemies by grinding against walls, which builds a charge that allows you to squish enemies simply by running through them. Build up a charge for too long and you will end up exploding before you can take out the bad guys.
The graphics utilize a terrific neon-heavy retro theme that really does combine the visuals from Pac-Man and Rogue-likes. It is simplistic, yet beautiful, and the colors morph continually into different patterns. It can be played in either landscape or portrait mode, so the choice is yours. The audio is also retro, featuring a lot of simple sound effects that complement the visual style nicely. Controlling your character is as easy as swiping left, right, up, or down to indicate the next direction that he should move. These worked well in general, but making quick direction changes or tight maneuvers doesn’t always register properly. It can be frustrating, but it is manageable, especially with the new sensitivity settings. Grinding is accomplished by swiping toward a wall as you move down a corridor, which will also cause your character to turn in the same direction once he encounters a break in that wall. You’ll also notice a visual indicator that looks like sparks in the grinding space, while his outline becomes redder. Proper use of grinding is also an important skill for surviving and racking up big scores.
Replay value is outstanding, as no two levels are the same and the game has a wonderfully powerful one-more-try effect. GameCenter integration brings leaderboards for the 3 game modes. It would be cool to see some achievements added in the future, as this seems like a missed opportunity. There is even a 2-player mode so that a friend can help you to survive. As a universal app, players pay $1.99 to enjoy the beautiful presentation and awesome gameplay on the iPhone/iPod, as well as the iPad without sacrificing any quality. Forget-Me-Not is a 5-Dimple stunner that has earned a permanent place on our iDevices.