33rd DIVISION is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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33rd Division Hands-On Preview

We have prepared for landing in Flight Control and been anchored by Harbor Master, but we have yet to draw a path to put the lives of our sprites in grave danger. 33rd Division, the latest from Blimp developers Craneballs Studio, puts you in the shoes of a commanding officer during World War II. Your goal is to help direct your soldiers past enemy lines, and it really hits home when you’re the one inflicting the casualties.

If you have played one of the numerous path-drawing games available on the App Store, the gameplay behind 33rd Division will feel like second nature. However, some major tweaks really shake things up for the iPhone’s trademark genre.

Enemies with cone-shaped viewing radars patrol the levels, looking to shoot down any army men they can find. They generally move in set paths, but occasionally they’ll pull a fast one on you and change directions. In case you get sighted, tapping on your unit will force him to crouch down, leaving their line of vision. This keeps the pace and frantic micro-management interesting.

In our preview build, there were two of four areas available to play. Both are based on cities in the Normandy region of France: Reims and Caen. Each has its differences which force you to adapt to new strategies. For example, in Caen one of the enemy soldiers has a watch dog, extending his view. There is also a safehouse where the occasional third Axis member will pop out. Reims is very different, with a soldier in a trench, plank bridges to cross over the gap, and a tank.

33rd Division has three kinds of units, each of which act quite differently. The soldier runs at a normal speed and gains you one point. The medics are quicker, gain you more points, but appear less frequently. You always want to save sergeants, though, who may seldom appear and run slowly but garner three points. Powerups such as score boosters, invisibility, extra speed, and a cold front that freezes enemies can be collected by running over them. There are also great voiceovers, and we got a kick out of the sergeant’s serious voice.

There are also two distinct game variations to play. Life Mode gives you five lives, which can be added to by picking up extra lives with your men when they appear. The harder of the two is Time Mode. Here, you start off with 30 seconds to get as many soldiers to their stations as quick as possible. Successfully saving one of your men and picking up a time power-up gains you ten seconds. Sending hordes of men on a death march is not the answer, though, since getting killed costs you 10 seconds.

Unlike your average path-drawing game, crashing soldiers into each other does nothing. Also, you don’t need to have more than one out at a time. Once your soldier is either killed or saved, another will automatically appear. However, additional soldiers can be added to speed up the gameplay, which is extremely important for Time Mode.

What high-score game would be complete without online scoring? 33rd Division is OpenFeint enabled, with high score tables for each mode/level combination. We do hope the developer adds achievements before launch.

We almost wrote 33rd Division off at first glance as ‘just another Flight Control clone’, but the truth is that there is the potential for some serious substance here. The game will be submitted to Apple soon, meaning we should see this out within the next month.

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33rd Division Review

Path-drawing games on the iPhone typically put you in charge of directing planes, boats, and other soulless machines. If you screw up (and you will), well, that’s just one less vehicle for Giant Corporation X. But in Craneballs Studio’s 33rd Division, you’re responsible for the lives of soldiers who can talk, bleed, and die. The humanity of the little dudes, in addition to intense gameplay that alternates between stealth and speed, helps 33rd Division stand out from the path-drawing genre like blood on the snow.

Okay, that’s a little grim. 33rd Division is set on enemy grounds during World War II, so there will be death, but the game’s aesthetics (highlighted by a title screen featuring military personnel in too-big helmets) are pretty lighthearted. As an omniscient General, you’re responsible for shepherding your troops across one of four battlefields crawling with German soldiers. By tracing a line to the safe zone, you help your men past trenches, machine gun nests, barracks, and German Shepherd dogs.

Cones of vision galore.

Each enemy soldier has a line of sight identified by a green ‘cone’ extending from the front of their face. If a good guy gets caught in that cone, he’s immediately gunned down and you lose a life. You can also play 33rd Division in ‘Time Mode,’ which pits you against the clock instead of giving you a set number of lives. Every soldier’s death results in a ten-second loss from your final countdown. Guess what happens when the timer reaches zero.

Fear not, men; there is hope for survival. You can tap a deployed soldier to make him duck out of an enemy’s line of sight (although soldiers accompanied by dogs can still sniff you out). When the enemy looks elsewhere, that’s your cue to get moving again. You gain a point for each soldier you lead to safety. Medics, who move more quickly, will earn you two points. Sergeants lumber across the field to earn you three points. Your men can also collect power-ups to double and triple their score, freeze enemies, and turn invisible for a short time (this is authentic history, here).


One of 33rd Division’s greatest strengths is its adjustable pacing. You can manage one soldier at a time, or you can manage several. In Time Mode, you gain seconds for each man you rescue, so simultaneous deployment is mandatory. However, path-drawing beginners can take their time in Life Mode’” although it may take some hours of gameplay to build up enough of a score to open up new levels. When you achieve a high score worth sharing (or if posting abysmally low scores is your thing), you can do so through OpenFeint.

The graphics are simple: American heroes are in green uniforms, Nazis in grey. The soldiers are necessarily small in comparison to the blasted-out battlefields, though it can sometimes be difficult to guide such tiny things. You may find yourself squinting a bit. Little touches are present, like dogs with furiously wagging tails, and Nazis pausing for a cigarette break (during which you should run like the wind for your goal). The game’s sound is likewise spartan but fun, with marching tunes, soldiers barking ‘Yes, sir!’ in response to your guiding wisdom, and Germans exclaiming, ‘Gott im Himmel!’

33rd Division is definitely worth recruiting if you’re looking for a path-drawing game with a few gameplay twists. It’s easily one of the best of its kind. If nothing else, do it for the good of history.