Call of Atlantis Review: A perfect PC-to-iPhone port
When it comes to match-three puzzle games, there aren’t too many out there that are better than Call of Atlantis, which was released on PC back in 2008. Developer Playrix has just released a port of the title for the iPhone; thankfully, this time around the port has not only been done right, but it’s actually improved on pre-existing issues from the PC version.
The plot is surprisingly deep for a match-three puzzle game. According to the intro, Atlantis was a magical place created by Poseidon where all the people lived in total happiness because of the land’s mystic nature. However the god becomes unhappy when the populace forgets about him down as new generations are born; things go how we expect them to, and Atlantis sinks. The altar of Poseidon is lost to the sea, and the mystic jewels on it are scattered to seven cities around the Ancient Mediterranean; it’s up to players to recover these gems.
Recovering the gems is a multi-step process. Each level contains a standard jewel grid that you expect to find in such a game, but in order to advance to the next level players will have to collect a number of artifact pieces amidst the jewels and objects scattered across the screen.
The artifact pieces are collected by getting them to the bottom of the screen, where they are automatically gathered to assemble a complete item. After finding a certain number of these objects, players are then treated to a hidden item minigame where they have to correctly place an item in a painted setting. This isn’t terribly challenging, but it provides a nice little break from the constant match-three action. Once you have placed these items correctly around the scene, you’ll be granted one of the missing gems from the altar.
By this point we’ve all seen match-three gameplay on the iPhone. That said, Playrix really hit a home run when they put Call of Atlantis together. All the basics for this type of game are there, but there are some neat ideas added in, too. There are varied map shapes (which limit playable moves) and obstacles like locked/frozen pieces scattered around the grid in later levels (adding increasing amounts of difficulty).
There are also power-ups like bombs to remove whole sections of jewels from the grid, extra time via hourglasses, and lightning bolts that can remove jewels of a certain type. None of these are too extraordinary, but they get the job done effectively. If you wait for a few seconds, the game will suggest a move to make but it never penalizes you for the hint. Also, many puzzle games will penalize a player when they run out of moves to make on a map; not so with Call of Atlantis. The game will merely re-shuffle the grid objects if this should happen, again with no penalty incurred.
This is easily one of the best ports of a game from the PC to the iPhone. In fact, there’s no hint that this was originally meant for a PC’s screen. The port job was just done that well. Text is easy to read during the cut scenes, graphics seem perfectly-sized for the iPhone’s screen, and things automatically adjust when you flip the device’s orientation.
Each of these cities is introduced via a beautifully-presented cutscenes, which are high-quality animated slideshows. The visuals in these cutscenes really look great, and the voice-over narration is equally excellent. Each of these shows can be re-watched from the game’s main menu after you unlock them, and they’re kind of fun to watch a couple of times in order to take in all the details and facts they present.
There is only one minor problem with Call of Atlantis. The game will drain your iPhone’s battery power pretty quickly. Within two hours on a fully-charged phone, the “20% battery power” warning popped up. This was reduced a bit by changing the brightness setting, but the game looks really spectacular on full brightness, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.
Call of Atlantis is great, there’s just no other way to put it. It features some really excellent production values, but more importantly it’s fun. It’s also insanely addictive, so this may not be the best iPhone game to fire up around the workplace. If you’re a fan of such games, you’ll be glad you added this app to your iPhone.