Review: Harbor Master
Harbor Master, by Imangi Studios
- Great game design, easy to learn
- Multiple game boards included, each with different twists
Harbor Master is a game the, at least initially, appears to be very similar to the wildly popular (and already reviewed) Flight Control. However, once you start to play, you can see some clear differences that makes this game stand out.
Like Flight Control, in Harbor Master your task is to steer a vehicle (in this case, ships) to the correct location (dock). However, where as Flight Control ended there, Harbor Master is only getting started. In Harbor Master your goal isn’t just to steer the ships to the dock, but ultimately it is to remove their cargo and then steer the ships away again. Each ship carries a certain amount of cargo with it, and once the ship is in the port, it starts to unload. Once the ship is unloaded, you then need to steer it OUT of the dock and back out to sea! You have control with them coming AND going!
Harbor Master comes with five maps (that are locked based on total cargo unloaded). Some are simple (two docks, one type of cargo), some are more complex (four docks, color coded for a specific color cargo!), and some are downright fiendish (whirlpools chasing your ships, pirates trying to sink your boats). In addition to that, there are multiple ship types. Smaller ships carry less cargo and are much faster. Larger ships carry more cargo (sometimes cargo that needs to go to different docks) and move much more slowly. Remember that when steering the ships around!
Game play is smooth on the 3GS, with no stuttering or breaks. Graphics are simple but polished – they suit the game well. Music is just what you expect – background music (no ability to play iPod songs) that blends nicely with the game. With all the caveats, the one thing I found missing was any sort of multiplayer mode. Given the multiple cargo types, it seems obvious to have some sort of multiplayer mode, but it is not meant to be. They do suggest having multiple people use the same iPhone (mutlitouch) to play, but that seems unreasonable.
Much like Flight Control, this game can be very addictive. I have been playing a couple of the boards, just trying to beat my high scores (which I haven’t gotten very close to). This game has taken it’s spot right next to other games on my iPhone that I play on a regular basis.
All in all, this is a fun game. There is nothing else to add. It is well designed, fun to play, and challenging. At $0.99, I strongly recommend it to everyone, even without the multiplayer support (maybe coming soon in an update?). Four and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.