App review: The Incident

Like its contemporary, Canabalt, The Incident is a game that knows exactly what it is -- and is not -- and plays to those strengths to a T. The basic premise of this iPhone title is simple enough, and in that simplicity (as with many great games) lies its power. You are Frank Solway, a lone man involved in a day that has gone completely out of whack -- namely, objects have begun falling from the sky, and you need to get out of the way. That's it. That's the whole game. You dash and jump while all manner of items come hurtling towards you from above; Mini Coopers, Ikea bookshelves, bikes, fences, arcade cabinets... really just about anything you can think of. Your goal is to avoid what's coming next (teased by a flashing white strip along the top of the screen), grab the variety of power-ups that happen by, and keep getting as high as you can to reach checkpoints. It's amazingly fun, and the charm of the game is doubled by developer Big Bucket's use of retro, 8-bit graphics along with a pitch-perfect chiptune soundtrack. The effect is terrific, blending the best of what we love from our NES years with the kind of gaming that's perfectly suited to a mobile device. We can't overstate how polished The Incident seems -- the developers have made all the right decisions, and the result is a game you pick up quickly, but can't put back down. If you've got $1.99 to spare, why are you still reading this?