Friday, July 3, 2009

Harbor Master Review

Flight Control was and is a big hit on the App Store, sparking interest in the chaos management genre. Soon after its release, Imangi, the developers of Little Red Sled, Imangi, and other games, announced their game, in the same genre, called Harbor Master. People thought it was a rip-off, until it was released, and customers were amazed by the differences, and how Harbor Master was actually... better than Flight Control.
In Harbor Master, $.99, you guide boats across the screen to ports, where they have to unload cargo, and leave the screen. You lose if any of the boats crash into each other. There are different sizes of boats, which move at varying speeds. There are three unique maps, with a new ones being added in frequent free updates. The three maps are: Sturgeon Creek, Fishing Bay, and Cyclone Island. In Sturgeon Creek, there are boats with different colors of cargo, which can only go to certain ports. Fishing Bay is a basic port with two docking stations at the top of the screen. Cyclone Island is a small island with three ports on different sides, and a whirlpool that moves around the map, temporarily disabling your control of the ships. The map being added in the next update, Cannon Beach, which has already been submitted to Apple, has three ports at the top of the screen. It also has pirates that attack, steal cargo, and try to sink the boats. To destroy the pirate ships, you must drag from a cannon at the bottom of the screen to the pirate ship, two times.
The controls of the game are fairly simple. You tap and drag from a boat to lead it somewhere. Once it is in a docking station, you can wait for it to unload, then you lead it off the screen in the same way. 
Sometimes you need to circle boats, so that they won't crash into the slower boats unloading at the docks.
The major differences between this and Flight Control are that in FC (Flight Control), you just have to lead the planes to a runway, but in HM (Harbor Master), you have to lead the boats out of the docks too. Also, HM was released with three maps, and FC had them added in an update. HM's frequent updates with new maps and features definitely make it a more worthwhile and long-lasting purchase than FC.
Harbor Master also has high score tables for the maps too. However, this is a bad thing once you get inside the game. Not the high score competition, but the actual tables don't match the polish of the rest of the game. The map select screen, main menu, and help screens all look like they have to do with boats, and the sea, but the high scores are just on a plain blue background with an close button.

3+ (In Updates) maps
Unique Features

High Score Tables Lack Polish

Bottom Line: 
If you love Flight Control (Which I'm sure a lot of people do), purchasing Harbor Master is a no-brainer. It builds on the idea, and takes it to the next level.

Graphics:  4.5/5
Gameplay:  4.5/5
Controls:  5/5
Replay Value: 5/5

Overall: 9.5/10 (not an average)


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