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Portabliss: Super Hexagon (iOS)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Super Hexagon.

I feel weird about rendering a verdict about a game I've played for, at most, 48 seconds in a single session, but that's just how Super Hexagon works. Besides, that 48 seconds was hard-won after dozens of less successful, even briefer attempts. I'm reasonably sure I get the idea.

Super Hexagon takes place in a semi-random, spinning spiral of increasingly complex shapes. All you have to do is turn left and right, by holding either side of the device screen, to guide a little triangular pointer between the walls that are continually closing in.

That's how it works mechanically, but to reduce the game to "spinning around for a few seconds" fails to tell the whole story. It's essential to experience Super Hexagon as a whole: as a pulsing, infinite maze of shifting colors, aggressive chip music (by the excellent Chipzel) and the disembodied voice of writer Jenn Frank, flatly informing you when you've made it to the next level, or when you're starting "again." It's an overwhelming experience – for a few seconds at a time. The short span of a game means designer Terry Cavanagh can challenge you as much as he wants. Starting over means the end of 20 seconds of progress, not an hour, so failure isn't as jarring as it is in most games. Which is good, because failure is more common here.

Super Hexagon is beyond ideal for the mobile format. Mobile games work best when they can be enjoyed in short, impromptu sessions. A complete game of Super Hexagon can be played, and enjoyed, in half a minute. And then whatever spare time you have will likely be filled with consecutive half-minute sessions.

Super Hexagon is available, temporarily on sale for $0.99 on iTunes . We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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