Back when mobile phones were still thought of as a new idea, Nokia's 3210 was highly sought after in many circles for its built in version of the highly addictive game Snake. Fast forward a decade, and Hard Lines is attempting to be a worthy successor to that classic title.
The mechanics of Hard Lines are simple. With simple directional strokes of your finger, you steer a line around the screen towards randomly spawning markers, accruing points while avoiding other lines that enter from the sides of the screen.
Slick and neatly designed, Hard Lines is clearly influenced by the Light Cycles from Tron, yet it doesn't limit itself to that one style of play; there are several variations. In some modes, you gain points by getting opposing lines to crash into you or the walls; in others you race against the clock, or just try to last for as long as possible. There are also some good bonuses, such as the occasional power up that enables you to crash through any other competing lines without killing yourself.
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The gameplay is occasionally made overly complicated, however, via the addition of dialogue that bikes may utter in the middle of a match. This appears as a single line of text and, while it's often funny, it's usually just a distraction that obscures your view.
Aside from this, though, the balancing is beautiful and the game manages to be both punishing and forgiving at once. Each line is only a single pixel wide, for example, but you only need to pass near an item on the screen to collect it, avoiding any frustrating situations where you might end up circling it forever. Not only this, but the very narrow nature of your line means the game can afford to throw a lot of competing lines at you at any one time. In particular, the Gauntlet mode continually spawns large numbers of other lines rapidly, resulting in an intense session that's highly satisfying when it goes your way.
Hard Lines is a well designed, easily controlled, multifaceted version of Snake with enough new material and creativity behind it to stop it being called a straightforward clone.
Hard Lines is available from the AppStore for 59p / 99c.