:Shift: Review

Shift (not to be confused with the other Shift) is an iPhone port of a famous Flash game that’s been played millions of times online. While the iPhone edition of the game has some issues, the mind-bending idea at the core of the experience still captivates.

Dooooooomed!

From a distance, Shift looks like a very simple platforming game–it’s harder to get any more basic than black and white. You run and jump around the levels, avoiding spikes and hitting switches to reach the goal. It’s like something out of Game Programming 101.

Until you hit the shift button, that is. This literally turns the game world on its ear. The screen flips upside-down, the white background and black landscape switch places, and your dude pirouettes around whatever he’s standing on so that he’s right side up again. In effect, you’ve turned the level inside-out, so that you’re playing from an entirely new perspective.

To get anywhere in this game, you’ll need to shift back and forth constantly. It’s often the only way to work around obstacles and get to hard-to-reach places. Factor in time pressure on certain levels from encroaching walls of spikes, and Shift can get pretty difficult.

The kludgy touch controls don’t help, either. They are barely adequate for handling the game’s tougher jumps. You will eventually adapt, but it’s going to take a lot of needless deaths. Also disappointing is the game’s lack of a stage select–you have to play right through. The only score kept is a cumulative timer.

But even with those shortcomings in mind, Shift satisfies as a minimalist, whip-smart puzzle platformer. 99 cents is a small price to pay to get your mind blown.

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