The Average Gamer

Storm in a Teacup Preview (iOS)

Storm in a Teacup has a simple premise. A 2D side-scroller controlled by simply tapping the screen, the game follows the character Storm as he travels through a dreamworld created by his older brother. Designed to straddle the line between ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ games, developer Cobra Games’ ambition is bold – the question is: to what extent have they succeeded?

Storm in a Teacup is a pretty game. That much is clear – I mean, look at the screenshots. Much like last year’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn, it’s a game that you wouldn’t mind hanging on your wall just so that you can invite your friends over to take a look. But at the end of the day, it is a video game. If it’s not fun, then what’s the point in buying it?

Fortunately for Cobra, Storm is a wonderful platformer. With a first level reminiscent of any other platform-based video game, the physics-based puzzles in Storm quickly come into effect, ratcheting up the difficulty, and leaving you swearing into your jacket sleeve. In fact, had the iPad microphone been running during the preview, it would have captured enough instances of muffled swearing to earn me a place in the Guinness Book of World Records (not that I’m bragging or anything.)

While the game itself is honestly challenging – the puzzles are clever, require split-second timing and good hand-eye co-ordination – its difficulty is compounded by its main flaw: floaty controls. Now, it’s understandable as to why they’re as loose as they are – you are controlling a floating teacup, after all. And they’re not entirely terrible, nor so frustrating as to cause me to drop the game entirely. But, having played Super Meat Boy recently, the lack of precision control was a little disconcerting.

The problem faced by many developers when placing a ‘traditional’ game genre onto the iOS platform is one of suitability. Is it really possible to fit a 2D, side-scrolling platformer onto a mobile device? Cobra Games says “Yes”… and I have to agree. Playing Storm in a Teacup felt like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant pond. A perfect mix between ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ – its short, time-sensitive, levels, combined with traditional, tricky challenges to overcome – Storm in a Teacup feels like a perfect way to spend five minutes playing a video game.

The short levels also add to the game’s inherent psychological value. Knowing that you’re forever close to the end of a level feels empowering, even when you keep dying and have to spend ten minutes replaying the same five seconds of gameplay over and over.

For those of you cool enough to own both, Storm is available on both iPad and iPhone and is a Universal app – ie. one 99¢ download and, boom! You can play on both systems. Having played both versions, I would highly recommend playing it on the iPad. Not only is the game more aesthetically pleasing on a larger screen but the whole thing ran a little smoother and felt a little more at home on the bigger device. That’s not to say the iPhone version isn’t also terribly good, but when there’s a slight accuracy issue, problems are compounded further on a smaller screen.

Overall, would I recommend Storm in a Teacup? Absolutely. Arriving on May 19th, it’s 99¢ that will go a long way. Fun, demanding and perfectly suited for handheld gaming, pick it up if you like… well, video games!

At 18 years old, you could be forgiven for thinking Phillipe Bosher is uneducated in the world of video games. But, since starting his gaming career Christmas ’97 with Goldeneye and Super Mario 64, he loves nothing better than to talk about, watch, and play video games. A typical “N64 kid” in that he frequently cites Ocarina of Time as the greatest game ever, Phillipe’s friends often introduce him as “a guy who’s often wrong, but is occasionally pretty interesting.”