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Appletell reviews Myst for iPhone and iPod touch

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MYST reviewCategory: Adventure/puzzle game
Seller: Cyan Worlds, Inc.
Requirements: iPhone 2.2.1 software update
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod touch
File Size: 727MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Price: $5.99
Age Rating: 9+ (infrequent/mild cartoon or fantasy violence

This has to be the easiest $6 you’ll ever spend in the App Store. Anybody who remembers the days of the Macintosh clones, Motorola 86xx processors, or the dreaded Performa will likely remember playing this game when it first came out. And what a great memory; Myst was one of the first games that truly showcased the power of then-new CD-ROM technology. By packing in stunning visual graphics, an immersive soundtrack, and video footage, an entire world came alive in vibrant detail (contrast it with the flat graphics on game consoles of the period, if you weren’t born yet, to see the difference). And just imagine if you could actually touch that world…oh, wait! Now you can!

Gameplay

Gamplay is handled via a simple interface; you touch the objects on the screen. Movement along paths is as simple as tapping where you want to go, and turning is achieved by swiping in the direction you want to turn.

Myst Tree Path

Since the graphics are all pre-rendered, there is a transition as you move from place to place, rather than live movement. This is part of what makes the game feel old fashioned, but when it first came out, the quality of the graphics was truly stunning. Luckily, the transition speed between scenes is variable, and the hardware is actually up to the task of rendering them (unlike the low-end Performa machines many of us originally played this on). You are free to wander the worlds of Myst, called Ages, and encouraged to explore puzzles and contraptions you discover along the way.

Myst Study

Manipulating objects also comes quite naturally; most items can be manipulated or explored by touching them to activate.

Myst Temple & Lever

Some items require the use of more complex gestures to manipulate them, such as dragging to pull, rotate, or engage some machinery. Unlike the PC version, though, this feels much more natural. Physically moving a lever with your finger, rather than clicking to drag it, actually makes this an engaging refresh of the game, rather than a rehash for a new platform.

Improvements

First and foremost are the graphics. Cyan claims that the graphics in the iPhone game are actually better than they were in the original. Seeing as the iPhone/iPod Touch have integrated graphics acceleration, while many Macs from the early 90’s lacked GPUs altogether, this is not entirely unbelievable. Visually, the game does benefit from the pre-rendered graphics, though it is at the expense of more immersive/expansive gameplay. This is an odd tradeoff, but you eventually do get used to it. Another great improvement is the integrated hints guide, which is available from the standard preferences screen. There is a persistent “i” in the lower right hand corner, which calls up the preferences, bookmarks, and hints screen.

Also new in the iPhone version of the game is auto-save. Many’s the time a Myst gamer lost several hours of gameplay due to a crash/freeze/other catastropher. The gameplay is so immersive that you quickly forget about the little things like saving. And if you’re playing on an iPhone, there’s almost a 100% chance you will eventually be interrupted by a phone call. Hats off to Cyan Worlds for this improvement!

Requirements and Resources

Nostalgia comes at a bit of a price (though not in dollar terms—six bucks is a steal for this game). Here are some of the game’s requirements:

  • Space: This game is a whopping 727 megabyte download, and it requires an even bigger 1.5 gigabytes for installation. You may not be able to keep it on your iPhone/iPod all the time, and you may have to delete some content to get it there in the first place. Though this would be a great opportunity for an AppleTV tie-in: use an iPod as a control and have the graphics on a beautiful HDTV. Listen up, Apple!
  • Headphones: The sound is an integral part of the experience, and, like built-in computer speakers of the early 90s, the integrated iPhone/iPod touch speaker does not cut it. Headphones are a must.
  • Getting Started Guide: For users who may be new to the Myst franchise altogether, check out Cyan World’s Guide. It provides a nice overview, although the game is simple enough to learn through trial and error.
  • YouTube Previews: Check out a couple of videos of real time play, courtesy of TouchArcade and AppVee.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Ages to discover…again. I can’t put Myst down; I’m as hooked as I was when it first came out.

Appletell Rating:

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  • boomber.Girl

    oh, this game's enjoyable :)