Grab it while you can!
Posted on 23 January 2010 by Jon Lim
Grab it while you can!
Posted on 20 July 2009 by Jon Lim
Harbor Master is the latest entry from Imangi Studios, a fast paced game where you guide cargo boats into docks and guide them back out. It is a very simple game that ratchets up the difficulty level quite quickly, and it’s very easy to lose track of time while playing. An oddly dangerous combination for an iPhone game.
Harbor Master is a devilishly simple game: guide the boats into the docks with your finger, and guide them back out as soon as they have completed unloading their cargo. There are four different docks at your disposal: Fishing Bay, Cyclone Island, Sturgeon Creek, and Cannon Bay. Each dock has its own distinct flavour and personality, and you have to unlock the last three by unloading specific numbers of cargo.
Fishing Bay is as simple as you can get, two docks, and boats are coming left, right, and centre. I think of Fishing Bay as the tutorial level, where you have to get used to the controls and the mechanics of the game, and this dock is perfect for that.
Cyclone Island is when the docks begin to get interesting. Periodically, cyclones will appear around the island and any boats caught in its path will be thrown askew from its original path and may cause some mayhem on your end.
Sturgeon Creek is my favourite level, despite being awful at it, because it introduces quite a novel idea: there are four docks, but they are colour coded. The left-hand side docks are for purple cargo, and the right-hand side docks are for orange cargo. Boats will come in from wherever and it is up to you to ensure that the correctly coloured cargo gets to their respective docks. Things heat up quickly as the frequency of boats entering the screen quickly increases and you will find yourself very flustered in a short amount of time. Frankly, I think this level is the best part of Harbor Master, and I wish I were better at it.
Cannon Bay is a new addition with the latest update, and it gives you three very spaced out docks with a cannon at the bottom of the screen. Occasionally, a pirate ship enters your screen and you have to quickly show them scurvy dogs who is boss. Thankfully, your cannon balls magically phase through your own incoming cargo ships, and seem to find a home in the hulls of the pirate ships, so you don’t have to worry about sinking your own kind. Of course, if they did hit your own ships, I’m pretty sure I’d have sunk a lot of my precious cargo!
The fact that I could write at least a short paragraph for each level shows you that the game itself has more depth than it appears to. That depth is the main reason I keep coming back to play Harbor Master: it’s simple, easy to play, and addictive.
The art for Harbor Master is nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done. The sprites are clean and clear and you can easily distinguish the type of ship coming in to dock. There are the single cargo ships, double cargo ships, and the big four cargo freighters that are slower than The Sims 3 loading on an iPhone 3G. (Rimshot!) In addition, the pirate ships which were recently added stay true to the whole black ship ideology, and I think they look fantastic. The levels themselves have quite a bit of detail like the shallow water being a lighter shade of blue, little paths running through the grass, rocks on the coast, and little shrubbery made into patterns on the ground. Overall, the art for the game fits it perfectly.
The soundtrack for the game is very simple and for some reason really gives it a real nautical feel. I hadn’t noticed it at first because I was too busy trying to get my ships not to hit each other, but the musical score for Harbor Master really set the tone right for the game. In addition, there are plenty of great sound effects in the game such as a dinging noise when a boat is finished unloading, the horn of a boat when they come a little too close to each other (I hear this one way too often.) and the great sound of a cannon firing. (And eventually the sound of a ship sinking!)
Harbor Master includes a great leaderboard and statistics tracker that gives you best scores for each level, best average score, and many other stats that make you feel very proud of yourself. From what I can see on Twitter from @kshepherd, Twitter integration will be included in the next big update, which means another outlet for me to boast about my meager scores on Harbor Master, awesome!
Harbor Master is one of those games that you have to have on your iPhone or iPod Touch. It’s easy to pick up and play, real simple to learn, and it can get challenging when it comes down to it. For the price of $0.99, you honestly just can’t go wrong with purchasing this great game from Imangi Studios, you will be hooked!