Arachnadoodle, an iPhone Game That Spins a Social Web

More iPhone games are taking advantage of social features provided by third-party platforms like Scoreloop, Plus+, and OpenFeint. One that has had some buzz around it lately, no pun intended, is the fly catching, spider-wielding, Peggle’ish title, Arachnadoodle from Connect2Media.

Players take on the role of a goofy little pink spider named Borris and it’s up to them to sate this gluttonous arachnid’s appetite for flies. The game plays, more or less, exactly the same as the game Peggle in the sense that the player makes use of the touch screen (controlling direction and speed) to launch Borris across the screen in the attempt to hit as many pegs as possible.

With each peg hit, a string of web is formed to connect them. The objective is to connect all pegs on the board with Borris’ webbing. If you don’t you will still submit a high score for that level, but you will not be able to continue to the next. Here is the catch, though: there are only a limited number of attempts that the player can use to complete the task at hand, so the game takes a little bit of thought to play well.

Early on the game is pretty easy, with the only concern being the pegs and hitting them all. Along the way, blue and purple flies also litter the screen, and obtaining them gives you bonus points and extra attempts. However, this simplicity is quickly lost as later levels begin to introduce obstacles such as furniture you can bounce off of, elastic pins that can change Borris’ trajectory, exploding bugs that destroy parts of your web, and electrified ones that can stop you dead in your tracks. Frankly, this makes the game most interesting, though the change in difficulty does hit the player rather hard and fast after getting used to the relative ease of earlier levels.

As for replayability, Arachnadoodle offers 32 levels but they do go by quick. Where the real magic comes into play is with the prospect of web strength. At the end of each level a horde of flies fly through your web, and the more interconnecting strings of web exist, the more you catch and the more points you acquire. So even if you finish a level, it is possible to spend a significant amount of extra time perfecting strategies and scoring higher.

Since the game is powered by OpenFeint, it comes complete with leaderboards and achievements as well. Unfortunately, while the leaderboards do add  a sense of competition — and so a desire to play more — the number of achievements feels extremely low, at four.

Presentation-wise, the game is pretty easy on the eyes as well. Though Borris himself looks a bit… odd, the almost hand-drawn, cartoonish style is wonderfully done for an iPhone title. Coupled with quirky sound effects, equally bizarre looking flies, and ironically used epic music when the flies approach, the game does an excellent job at making a gratifying user experience.

Overall, Arachnadoodle is a very nice indie app. Costing only $0.99, it is well worth the investment. Granted, it is still lacking in achievements and the difficulty change is a bit jarring part-way through the game, but with the replayability and flat out being fun to play, these nits are quickly forgiven.