In ngmoco’s Dr. Awesome, you play a beleaguered ER doc in the middle of a big viral outbreak. It’s your job to operate on the incoming parade of patients–whose names are pulled right out of your Contacts list–and set them on the road to recovery, all by playing a tilt-based puzzle game that’s essentially Qix on a microscopic level. Dr. Awesome makes a great first impression with its goofy jokes and accessible gameplay, but the novelty wears off fast, especially after the difficulty level suddenly jumps from “junior high biology” to “Top 10 medical school.”
Dr. Awesome’s healing techniques are unorthodox, but effective. Every “procedure” takes place in a diseased cell that’s lousy with virii of different shapes and sizes; your job is to slice off pieces of the cell with your razor-sharp probe until 75% of it is gone, at which point the bugs can no longer survive. You move the probe along the cell’s walls by tilting your iDevice; then, when you see an opportunity to strike, you make the probe travel across the cell, sectioning off the part that’s outside your cut. There’s a big risk/reward element here, because if a virus touches your probe OR your incision, the cut fails and you lose valuable time off of your meter. The bigger your cut, the bigger the chance you’re taking–and your patients can only stand a few failed procedures before they succumb to the disease.
This game is intuitive and easy to play for the first dozen or so procedures, where you will be curing your acquaintances with little trouble. There aren’t many virii at that stage of the game, and they mostly hang out in the middle of the cell, so you have plenty of room to operate. But soon after that, they get much nastier. Wall-crawlers appear to chase you off of the cell’s borders, and big baddies start shooting protoplasm at you like crazy. Soon after that, we reached the limits of our medical expertise, and our patients dropped dead one after the other. That’s not much fun–in fact, it can be downright creepy, depending on who’s kicking the bucket. We would have preferred a smoother difficulty curve to the hard wall we ran into.
Dr. Awesome’s cute dialog starts to go sour around the same time. Your hospital is staffed with some outsized personalities that crack jokes at your expense and generally act like weirdos; we liked palling around with them at first, but they only have a couple of static poses each, and they start to repeat themselves before too long. Plus, once you admit a patient, they’ll die automatically within 24 real-time hours if you don’t fix them up. We found this irritating, and we got sick of being admonished by the staff for letting our patients die. If the situation’s so serious, why don’t you jokers take care of it while we’re gone?!
Dr. Awesome isn’t a bad game, but we didn’t feel like it struck quite the right tone, either in terms of its gameplay or its theme. It’s definitely a passable Qix clone, for those who like that game, but we’d rather spend our $1.99 on Dropship