I went on a tear through the iTunes store recently, searching for games similar to games I had played in various forms years ago. It was this little trip down nostalgia lane that led me to picking up Fire Tail 2 due to the similarities it appeared to share with Java games like Fill It and actual titles like Qix, and I was not disappointed.
Here’s the pitch: You control a dot on the screen, and your objective is to segment off the screen with your tail and collect flags randomly placed. Here’s where it gets complicated: it feels like Siberix had all these different ideas about how to bring these old school games to the iOS platforms in a relevant way. Powerups? Got those. Varied enemies? Got those too. Other players who act and fill in the map just like you do, in a way that can only be described as ‘we wanted to put multiplayer in here, but couldn’t really figure it out’? Yup.
It’s the chaos that comes from an unfocused design. Instead of taking the core game and really putting the polish to it for release it feels like they took a little of everything they wanted and mashed it all together in a way that, while functional, still feels far too hectic and plays like it feels.
The most insane part about it is that when you die it will respawn you on an edge of the screen, but doesn’t appear to take into account where the multitudes of enemy bouncing dots are in relation to your spawn. So in the higher levels when there are upwards of a dozen of these guys all over the place at any given time it may spawn you directly in their path – killing you again. And it will do that over and over, meaning one bad mistake suddenly kills you enough to drain every life you have and end the game.
Despite that, and even ignoring how the controls aren’t quite as good as they should be it is strangely addicting. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve loaded it up on a whim, and suddenly have lost the better part of an hour to trying to beat my previous scores. It still manages to cash in on the nostalgia I have for the games it is trying to emulate and improve on.