Like a mini-medical drama in your pocket, Dr. Awesome has you tilting your iPhone in every direction in an effort to cut away the infections of you patients and making you their hero. Taking clear influence from the classic arcade game Qix, this modern twist on an old formula is something that everybody can get on board with. The title may sound silly, but it illustrates two fundamental facts about this game: You play a doctor, and this game is awesome.
Dr. Awesome offer a whole new spin on the classic Qix formula that could only be found on the iPhone. Rather than drawing lines with your fingers to cut out parts of the infection you'll be tilting the device in all four directions to guide your nano-tech laser. Using the tilt functionality allows you to control speed and direction with an accuracy that relies not on skill, but instinct. So few developers have been able to make a game that really showcases what tilting can do, but Dr. Awesome has done just that.
You'll use these mechanics to cut away more than 75% of the infection while trying to avoid cellular organisms that are living inside it. Power ups that increase your time limit or shrink the enemies will be introduced as you level your doctor up, as does the challenge. Once a patient is cleared of infection you'll simply move on to the next.
Production value in Dr. Awesome is much higher than it needs to be given the nature of the gameplay. Things could have easily been satisfying with little more than flat 2D backgrounds and an endless parade of patients, but iPhone games mega-publisher ngmoco isn't known for taking it easy when it comes to style and presentation. Rather than focusing solely on a gameplay mechanic, Dr. Awesome wraps the whole package in that “modern medical drama” motif that a handful of games have been able to pull off. While it lacks the ongoing story of games like Trauma Center, it certainly goes to great lengths to capture the vibe. Different characters with distinct personalities, an ER-quality soundtrack, and patients you'll actually care about go a long way to creating an engaging experience. Oh — and why will you care about those patients? Because they're made up of your friends and family, taken straight from your iPhone Address Book.
Borrowing clients from your address book is not only a cute idea, but a powerful one too. While playing this for review, I was about to shut the game down and grab some lunch when the next patient came. I actually said to myself “I can't stop now — that's my mom!” It's a silly little thing, but incorporating the names of your friends and family really helped to deepen the experience. The flipside of course, was that sometimes I'd be helping patients named Central Taxi and Domino's Pizza. As strange as it might be, these moments took me out of the experience as quickly as helping legitimate friends pulled me in.
The other problem with patients is the amount of time you have to see them. As soon as a patient loads into the game, you have only 24 real world hours to treat them before they expire. It's little more than a cheap ploy to get you to play every day, and it feels surprisingly needy for a game that already has so much going for it.
Developer Escalation Studios first foray into iPhone development is a strong one. Dr. Awesome merges a classic formula with a modern genre with great results creating a unique experience that no gamer should miss. For 99 cents you get the fun of reliving a classic game born anew and the personality and quality that ngmoco releases are known for. It's hard to pass on a package like that.