Feel the Burn

Who knows why this big Godzilla wannabe is out to prove himself by hocking fireballs during his night on the town, but oh, what fun it is to Burn the City (Out Now, $0.99)! A physics puzzler very much in the vein of Angry Birds, Burn The City shares its bird-flinging predecessor’s fundamental strength: the devilish joy of watching stuff topple over thanks to the player’s well-aimed projectiles. Comparisons to Rovio’s masterpiece may be inevitable, but Burn the City has a special flair (dare I say, “flare”?) of its own thanks to its extremely heavy use of reflective physics. As human civilization develops better flame retardants, this dragon has to think way outside the box if he’s going to fulfill his purpose of leveling everything in sight!

Burn the City‘s fireball-flinging formula does inherit Angry Birds‘ one liability: the fact that the player can’t see targets at the same time that targeting decisions are being made. This has always been a pet peeve of mine, but most iOS owners who are fans of this genre are probably well acclimated to the screen-scrolling “look ahead, then guesstimate” technique by now. My greater worry going into Burn the City was its forward swiping mechanic for hurling the dragon’s fireballs; as I noted recently in Feed the Rat, there’s something about the swipe-to-fling that feels less intuitive to me than the spring-loaded pullback used in Angry Birds and Melon Truck. Maybe it’s a left-brain/right-brain thing?

Burn the City recovers by offering a target reticle that gives the player real-time feedback on the trajectory a fireball will take once it’s belched. The reticle remains onscreen while the player commands the dragon to ready his next fireball, and comparing the current reticle to the previous one allows the player to range his or her shots with excellent precision. Simple levels underwhelm at first, but once the nuclear power plants, reflective barriers, and wrecking balls held by meltable chains come into play, there’ll be no denying how much Burn the City succeeds in showing the physics puzzle fan a good time. The going starts getting really good about sixteen levels into Burn the City‘s 45-level slate, so the complaint most likely here is that it spends too much time training the player in Angry Birds territory before branching off into the truly fresh experience it deserves to be remembered for.

Burn the City‘s hand-drawn aesthetic feels a little less organic than usual for the genre thanks to its industrial setting, but pyromaniacs are sure to revel in watching its many smoldering embers — it’s certainly better to do this virtually than in real life, that’s for sure. None other than Kevin MacLeod strikes again on the audio side, but sadly his music is employed only on the title screen. At least Burn the City is perfectly friendly to external music.

Burn the City should last a good three to four hours, with plenty of replay value for Game Center enthusiasts who want to reap high scores by finding the most efficient way to complete each level. A second episode appears to be in the works judging from its level select menu, so be sure to keep an eye out for updates!

iFanzine Verdict: Despite feeling like a close cousin to a certain bird-slinging physics puzzler at first, Burn the City veers off into fresh territory that makes it well worth purchasing for genre fans. And if you’re new to destructive physics puzzlers, this isn’t a bad one to start off with either!

[xrr rating=4/5]