'Edgy's' Cube Craziness Returns - Hopefully for Good
Mobigame's long saga over the name of its "Marble Madness"-esqe puzzle maze game took a new turn this week. "Edgy" -- previously known as "Edge" -- returned to the App Store. The game's simple concept and multitude of platforms and puzzles make for great game play, and it pulls off a retro, 8-bit style that's reminiscent of an old Atari game given a modern makeover.
The story of "Edgy" sounds like an iPhone developer's worst nightmare. You create a game that includes a lot of intricate puzzles and levels. Lots of time goes into it, so you think it's appropriate to charge a moderate amount, as iPhone games go. There seems to be no reason for the App Store to reject it -- no shaken babies, no naked ladies, no Internet tethering, just clean old puzzle-solving fun. Approval is granted, public reaction is generally positive, and it seems you've caught your little piece of the iPhone dream.
Then it all starts to unravel over a single word: the name of the app.
"Edgy's" orginal title was simply "Edge." It first appeared on the App Store about a year ago, but a few months later it was removed. That action stemmed from a complaint from a company called "Edge Games," according to what Mobigame told FingerGaming last May. Apparently Edge Games is very protective of its name, and it's gone after several titles that use the word "edge," never mind how common the word is in ordinary conversation. Edge Games' lawyers have also reportedly targeted titles like "Mirror's Edge," "Planet's Edge" and "Edge of Extinction." Expect more lawsuits if U2 or W. Somerset Maugham ever make their own games.
In fact, Edge Games' rapid-fire litigation machine has apparently motivated a member of the International Game Developers Association to attempt to remove Edge's CEO, Tim Langdell, from that organization's board. Langdell has since resigned from the IDGA, according to Wikipedia's take on the situation, but the article the Wiki entry cites for that statement is oddly no longer available on the IGDA's own site. Anyway, he's not currently listed as a director.
The Apple App Store abhors this sort of controversy, so "Edge" has disappeared and reappeared on its shelves multiple times over the past year, depending on who's winning the argument at any given moment. This week it came back with a new name -- "Edgy" -- and I hope that one-letter difference is enough to call off Edge Games' attack dogs for good.
Pointless naming feuds aside, what do you actually DO in "Edgy"? The closest comparison I can come up with is an old Atari game called "Marble Madness." In that one, you control a marble as it rolls around platforms arranged with holes, obstacles, moving parts and labyrinth-like pathways in order to get from point A to point B as fast as possible without falling into the void. "Edgy" simply has you moving a cube instead of a marble, which makes you more stable when trying to stand still but makes certain maneuvers a little trickier.
The main goal is to get through each level as fast as possible, but along the way you can collect so-called prisms (little colored cubes) for bonus points. Many of these prisms lie outside the shortest way to get to the finish line, so sometimes you'll find yourself trying to tackle a particularly difficult section of the puzzle just for the hell of it, rather than to score a good grade and get to the next level. There are 46 levels in all, and they get more complex as you move on.
"Edgy's" "Marble Madness" similarities are as much about style as they are about concept. "Edgy" nails "MM" mid-'80s feel with minimalist, blocky, high-contrast graphics and hints of neon lights around the edges. The music -- credited to Romain Gauthier, Simon Perin, Richard Malot and Jeremie Perin -- has this sort of 8-bit techno disco ring to it. I felt like I was playing an old Nintendo with an upgraded sound card. It complements the looks of the game perfectly, and I highly recommend playing this with the sound on.
Control can be a difficult task to approach in designing iPhone games. "Edgy" lets you have it your way. You can control your cube directly with your finger on the touchscreen (not my favorite because it blocks your view), or you can roll it around by tilting the iPhone (which I don't like because it makes me feel like I'm about to drop the thing on the pavement). I preferred the third option, which just gives you a four-directional trackpad at the bottom of the screen.
"Edgy" is an example of an iPhone game done right. It isn't a dumbed-down version of a game that was originally made for a console, and its control options let you handle it however you're most comfortable. Its concept is simple enough to understand and play immediately, though its dozens of well-designed levels and puzzles keep you guessing. And its style is refreshingly retro without trying too hard.
Mobigame could do well to design more levels for "Edgy" and hit up in-game sales, so even though the whole naming controversy may have scored the game a little more notoriety than it otherwise would have received, I hope the fight's finally over and done with.