Created by Igloo Games / Rated 9+ / 1 Player / iPhone + iPod Touch / 8.4 MB / $2.99
Review written by Tim Harding

Dizzy BeeThe iPhone 2.0 software brought with it the promise of innovative games utilizing touch and tilt control. Unfortunately, the image of monkey balls dancing in our heads was shattered with the release of Super Monkey Ball for the iPhone, as negative reviews stated that its controls were frustrating and anything but fun. While Sega works to patch the game so it plays properly, gamers feared they were left to demos, solitaire, and a plethora of tilt-based driving games. Fortunately, there’s a truly compelling game that’s every bit as stylish, charming, and challenging as the Super Monkey Ball series, minus the broken controls. That game is Dizzy Bee.

Dizzy Bee may not have the nice 3D graphics that Super Monkey Ball does, but it really doesn’t need them either. The wonderfully stylish, ‘cute’ 2D graphics of Dizzy Bee will win over any gamer ever intrigued by Loco Roco or Patapon. While the tilt gameplay is a bit reminiscent of Super Monkey Ball, there are stark differences. Dizzy Bee is to free your fruit friends and lead them to the goal while avoiding the variety of cleverly designed enemies. While Monkey Ball’s goal is to steer clear of the perilous edges and reach the goal, Dizzy Bee forgoes the edges, adds fruit friends that need rescuing, flowers that need collecting, and enemies that need avoiding.

Dizzy BeeThe enemies work so well in this game because as you tilt Dizzy Bee around the level, you’re really tilting the enemies too. This is an interesting concept because some levels seem to require that you do nothing more than shift your attention in order to beat the level. In one difficult spot, I found that if I focused on controlling the enemy instead of the bee, I was much more successful. Each enemy is creatively designed with characteristics that frustrate your progress in unique ways. Some enemies just sit there, waiting for you to roll them into the bee. Other enemies have set movements that are influenced by the direction you are tilting the world. The fruit also play a big part of the strategy of the game. Some fruit, like the orange, are circles, so they roll smooth. However, the lemons and pears are odd-shaped fruit that require an extra push to get them going. This really does play a big part in how you approach the levels and try avoiding enemies. It’s little choices like this that show how much thought was put into each individual level.

Beating all the levels of Dizzy Bee is not a difficult task. To move on, you need only save one fruit. However, the real challenge comes in trying to perfect each level. You can achieve bronze, silver, gold, or perfect rankings on each level based on 3 criteria. The game takes into account what percentage of the fruit you save, what percentage of the flowers you collect (some are stationary and some float around), and what percentage of the fruit were ‘chained together’ in their escape. It’s relatively easy to get all the flowers, slightly harder to save all the fruit, and sometimes near impossible to chain them all together. See, to chain the fruit together you need to save them all at the same time. Sometimes you’ve got a huge group of fruit to save from oncoming enemies, and the darn things won’t stuff themselves into the exit quick enough. That means it’s back to the drawing board with planning and precision instead of speed and sloppiness.

Dizzy BeeThe only negative thing I can really think to say about this game is the sound. There’s really no music to speak of and only minimal sound effects. While the sound effects were appropriate, I had issues with erratic volume. With my headphones plugged in, some sound effects were fairly quiet while others were deafening. For first-generation iPod Touch users, it’s probably best to forget the sound altogether and play without headphones as the headphones make a bit of a tangled mess when you’re tilting and turning the iPod around. I did enjoy the bee’s death sound effect though, that made me laugh every time. BzzBzz!

The game’s 50 levels should give you plenty to work on if you’re determined enough to try and perfect each one. Once you’re done though, there’s not much reason to come back (although I’m contemplating a second run through). I would love to see add-on level packs or a sequel because the gameplay never got old and the challenge really perfected the balance between frustration and reward. I could spend an hour on one level just trying to get a ‘perfect’, and I would immediately want to punish myself with the next challenge.

Dizzy Bee is the kind of game that makes me believe that the iPhone platform truly can hold its own in the handheld market. The game is so perfect in so many ways, I wish there were a dozen ‘Dizzy Bee’s in the App Store. This is by far my favorite iPhone game and a STEAL at $2.99. If you own an iPod Touch or iPhone, you MUST get this game. Kudos to Igoo Games for such a compelling, complete package!

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Version Reviewed: 1.4

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