One-Dot Enemies

App of the Day: One-Dot Enemies

Artificial life is a weird business. You fling millions of dollars at a game, craft character models composed of several thousand polygons each, throw in motion-capture, cloth physics, and vocal performances from, y'know, proper Hollywood actors, and all that stands out are the things that aren't quite right. The eyes that are too vacant. The lower lip that just looks weird. The fact that everybody sounds like Nolan North.

Then, you get a game like One-Dot Enemies, whose cast, as the name suggests, are each a single pixel high. They skitter around randomly - no polygons, no motion-capture, no Nolan North - and they're entirely convincing. I'm not sure what they're meant to be exactly, but I know I believe in them all the same. I believe in them, and now all I want to do is squash them.

One-Dot Enemies, an odd little timewaster from Kenji Eno, came out in early 2009 and was the first game - I appreciate that this is weird and stupid - to persuade me that the iPhone might be a decent handheld console. Before then, I hadn't really been that interested in iOS gaming, because iOS gaming seemed to be chasing after traditional genres for which it clearly had no obvious aptitude. There was the occasional acceptable puzzler, but everything else seemed to be a rotten 3D kart racer, or a maze game built around horrible tilt controls. Everywhere you looked there were awful virtual thumbsticks and idiotically complex gesture inputs. After all of that, One-Dot Enemies seemed strangely assured. In fact, it felt uncommonly at home on this weird new platform - and it still does.

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