Aurora Feint: The Beginning
by Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron
game type: Block puzzle role-playing game hybrid (MMo)
game platform: for iPhone and iPod Touch OS 2.0, free on iTunes App Store
A superb 10-week opus by 22 year old designers Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron, Aurora Feint is, indeed, a beginning. Their lush fantasy graphics situate you in a puzzle narrative that combines Bejeweled, Tetris and their own uniquely original block breaking physics with power-up purchases and unlock systems. Players mine five basic natural resource essence blocks (wind, water, earth, shadow, fire) by three-matching to clear. Aurora Feint exploits gestural controls ingeniously by applying gravity to blocks, making the accelerometer sensed screen reorientation a game move. Tilt the screen to cross swap and let the blocks re-fall into place. Music and sound effects very effectively reinforce both the narrative and pure-play experience value with satisfying stone-clunks and brick-booms that punctuate reverb-y chord progressions – all adding up to a Tolkeinesque atmosphere. Earned power-ups directly boost play enjoyment by adding new blocks to the autoflow. Play reward revolves around bigger and more beautiful block explosions. This game is very comparable to the Puzzle Quest franchise which brought the three-match RPG genre to consoles like PSP and Wii.
After a rough launch of unstable build that (when it worked), executed questionable privacy security practices (passing your address book over insecure transport) without disclosure resulting in an uproar and apology, climaxing with an official de-listing from the App Store, only to be re-listed as a maintenance update, appearing to resolve some of the version 1.0 errors and security concerns. Crisis averted skillfully despite the developer’s failure to realize that such a well-designed and free Touch game wouldn’t be a smash hit. The developers are accepting users crash reports by email which illustrates a challenge of providing support for App Store apps at the moment.
How to recover from Aurora Feint crashes
In the currently available version 220.127.116.11 running on iPhone 2.0 you will encounter serious bugs that seem to corrupt the local app data and then prevent it from launching. You can best resolve this issue and avoiding further App Store problems, including fatal reboot failure that requires a full system restore, follow these steps:
- With your iPhone/touch plugged-in to your sync machine, after choosing the device in the source column
- Open the Applications tab
- Choose to manually manage Applications
- Uncheck Aurora Feint
- Apply the sync
- Click on Applications in the source menu (left-hand side)
- Contextual click (control-click, right-click) on the the Aurora Feint icon
- Choose Delete
- Confirm both dialog boxes asking you how to deal with the file
- Choose iTunes Music Store, Applications, and search for Aurora Feint
- Re-download Aurora Feint, confirming dialog boxes
- Choose the device in the source column
- Open the Applications tab
- Check Aurora Feint
- Apply the sync
- Launch the game on the device
Your previous character should be appear, after negotiations with the server. It may not be the most recent version of your character, so you may have to re-play the make up for the lost progress. Seems like a big “David Hasselhoff!” to play this game. We, agree. If you haven’t yet installed Aurora Feint, consider holding out for a new version from the game developers, instead. An update from Apple to fix the serious bugs in Cocoa Touch 2.0 would likely solve some related problems that cause catastrophic crashes as you attempt to uninstall and reinstall apps through the mobile version of App Store, not a recommended method.
We haven’t tested the multiplayer aspect of the game, but should we decide to trust their new privacy security policy and try it out, we’ll update this space.
Aurora Feint succeeds at being well designed for mobility by saving the game state and allowing a full game resume. This feature rewards quick burst play and mitigates the consistent interruptions typical with play on-the-go. Few other non-free games at the App Store are this well polished and well adapted to the mobile OS X Touch platform. We look forward to the inevitable software updates from Danielle and Jason, along with the needed fixes from Apple, to make the whole play experience reliable and enjoyable.
Grade: I (Incomplete)
We’ll review again after a round of major updates.