iFist, the debut effort from Headcase Games, challenges you to a rock, paper scissors throw-down – with a challenging twist. Rather than a real-life game of reading your opponent and and determining a move, iFist dishes out rock, paper, scissors in rapid succession and you must remember not only the sequence, but the sequence required to win. A focused memory game, this is a different sort of handheld dare than you usually see in the App Store.
There are three available gameplay modes: Sequence, Challenge and Expert. In Sequence, you begin at a simple one gesture round, advancing through eighteen with each round building on the last sequence. For example, Round One shows a rock, so you throw paper. Round Two shows the rock, then scissors, and you respond with the paper then rock, and so on, until you must remember all eighteen in the sequence. You have two lives or “misses” allowed before failure. The sequence begins pretty slowly then settles into a rapid pace, and you only have a limited amount of time to enter the right sequence with a timer bar along the top measuring the distance to nil.
Challenge Mode is comprised of thirteen successive sequences from one gesture through thirteen, each sequence different from the last. Making it through the first five rounds it easy, but since they get longer and flash by faster it takes an enormous amount of focus to remember the later sequences. As in Sequence, however, you get two misses, with the missed sequence repeated for you to try again.
Expert is, appropriately, the most merciless of all. You are awarded no misses, and each sequence is different. You begin with a sequence of three for three successive rounds, then a sequence of four in a set of three, and so on through twenty four rounds. In all modes, points are awarded for each gesture you get correct with a real score boost from the time bonus in each round.
At the end of a game you can choose to submit your score to the leaderboards. All your scores are stored locally for each mode, and a quick tap over to Global allows you to flip through those ranks as well. Since speed is rewarded, even if you can make it through round sixteen on Sequence you will have to pair that memory with nimble fingers for a top spot. This is the sort of game that is fun to pass along to your friends and challenge them to top your score.
Fortunately, the buttons for each item at the bottom of the screen are clear, and the controls responsive. It’s a challenging test of short term memory and focus, and you may often find that the allowed misses do you no good at all – just being thrown off by one miss is enough to toss the whole sequence into disarray. Because the game requires so much focus it falls into the category of unfriendlies. You know, the games that make you scream at the nearest person “SHUT UP I’M PLAYING A GAME!” in all your competitive and irrational glory. A pause and quit to menu feature is elusive but present – just tap “score”.
Each item has a very distinct sound, and because you have to focus so hard on what you need to counter with rather than the gesture shown you begin to associate the thump of “rock” with “paper”, and it is the snip of the “scissors” that makes you think “rock”. It is about this time the brain melt sets in and you decide you never really wanted to be smart anyway.
iFist is a slick and challenging title that can round out any brain training regimen. A simple, well-executed concept, it just lacks the hook for real staying power. A true test of memory and quick thinking, the ability to readily issue challenges to friends might be just what it needs to keep you coming back for more. Oh, and guys, “iFist”? I don’t work blue.