iOS Gets an Essendial Game: Cross Fingers

 Every smartphone has its essential game.  It's that one game that showcases something unique about the OS, helps the user learn to use it and is a lot of fun.  On Palm OS it was Graffiti.  An alphanumeric space invaders, many hours were spent entering letters and on higher levels even symbols to stop them from crashing into the bottom of the screen and costing the player a life.  On Blackberry OS it was Nintai. Nintai was positively the most intuitive game playable with a trackball or trackpad.  Moving the thumb to the left caused the game piece to tumble to the left.  Brilliant.  Now iOS has such a game: Cross Fingers.  

You know this game was gonna be something different when in order to win you had to have multiple fingers on the screen and complete specific gestures to get off the first level.  Brilliant.  Brilliant and a lot of fun.  And best of all, it's FREE!  

In Giraffe, the letters fell from the top of the screen and you had to enter them using graffiti before they hit the bottom.  Simple, fun and still a learning tool.  There were multiple levels of difficulty but essentially only one board.

Giraffe Screenshot 

In Nintai, you had to tumble the piece around the board, sometimes activating switches until you got to the empty spot on the board where the piece would glide down into the board letting you know you could move on to the next level. There were multiple levels of difficulty and multiple board layouts, all very colorful.  It was possible to complete all the levels in one sitting.

 

Nintai Screenshot

Cross fingers looks like a wooden puzzle with sliding pieces.  You grab a piece with your finger and it lights up and you can slide it around the board.  The object, similar to Nintai is to get all the pieces over the "bare spot" in the board.  When you do, the pieces "fall through" and you move on to the next level.  In the shot on the left, you must use five fingers at a time to solve the puzzle.  You must hold the 4 reddish pieces out of the path of the light colored piece long enough to slide it home.  

Cross Fingers Screenshots

Unlike Nintai, it is not possible to finish the hundreds of available Cross Fingers levels in only one sitting. There are 30 puzzles per level and about a dozen levels. Some are pretty infuriating. One down side. Having four or more fingers on the capacitive touchscreen for long periods of time eats battery. I found I had to stop using Cross fingers on my iPhone and play it on my iPad.

Luckily the levels are designed at high enough resolution that cross fingers plays like a universal app. This is lucky for another reason. Some levels are so crowded, the iphone touch sensor gets all confused with 3 or more fingers jammed into one corner trying to hold several spring loaded pieces out of the way to the goal.

I recommend this game, only I caution that only the lower levels are playable on the iPhone.  For the higher levels with smaller movable spring loaded blocks, I suggest playing this on the iPad.  

I'd also like to investigate the battery drain issue I've been seeing when playing this.  I would like to first let the game sit in background and see what happens, then let the game sit in foreground without touching and lastly have several fingers on the screen.  I suggest the third alternative will be the source of the battery drain.  Multitouch is designed for occasional, not constant use.  While this game might make a good showcase of iOS multiouch capaibilities, if Apple decides this is going to be the iOS equivalent of Nintai, they might decide to tone it down a bit for iPhone so users aren't sitting there for 5 or 6 minutes at a time with 4 or 5 fingers on the screen trying to get a tiny wooden block past a dozen or so sliding blocks and into a little hole.

I would imagine you could also play this on OS X using either the Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.  This is one game you definitely can not play with an ordinary mouse.  Give it a try.  It's been out for several months now but as of June 29th it's FREE!  More info, including the history of Cross Fingers is available at appshopper.com.