iPhone review of the day: Shift 2 - Artsy platform puzzling that would make MC Escher proud

On iPhone
Shift 2
Price: $0.99 / %26pound;0.59
Size: 14.7 MB
Get it now on the iTunes store:US/UK

Most platform games looks like an explosion at a crayon factory. Most platform games require precision jumping and hair-trigger reflexes. Shift 2 is different. This stylish, black %26amp; white game is about jumping around on platforms, yes, but in order to get anywhere, you%26rsquo;re going to have to use your gray matter to think like a puzzle master. And it works wonderfully.

Each of the 150 levels (and counting) in Shift 2 has a door. Your only goal is to find a way to that door. There are pits full of spikes, rotating platforms and blocks (the blocks are new to Shift 2), and time limits to deal with, but what will really give your brain a workout is the shift mechanic. In an almost MC Escher-like touch, each level in Shift 2 can be %26ldquo;shifted%26rdquo; at any time, so what used to be solid becomes background and what used to be the background becomes solid. So if you%26rsquo;re standing on a black platform and shift, you%26rsquo;ll flip around and what was previously a white background now becomes a white platform, while the black platform you were standing on is now thin air. It takes a little while to wrap your head around, but soon enough it becomes second nature.

Above:At the moment, black is the ground and white the air. But imagine this image upside down, with the white as the ground and black as the air. Now imagine you can swap those conditions at will. It'slikethat.

Once you%26rsquo;ve got that down, the game can begin really messing with your head. At times the door will appear to be impossible to reach. So you%26rsquo;ll need to experiment. Some careful platforming and quick shifting will invariably lead you to the solution, but be careful of falling spikes and other obstacles. The only other color in the game is red, and you%26rsquo;ll only see it when your character dies in a splash of blood, forcing you to restart the stage. Thankfully all of the levels are quite small %26ndash; perfect for on-the-go gaming.

Shift 2 shows there%26rsquo;s plenty of room for smart platform games on iDevices. It cleverly crafts an experience that%26rsquo;s perfectly suited to the platform, and one that will force you to really use your brain to navigate the black-and-white world. And you%26rsquo;ll never get that slick theme music out of your head.

Jan 31, 2011