App Review: Tilt to Live for iPhone

Tilt To Live Of all the apps on my iPhone, Tilt to Live may be the first one to outrank Facebook and Amazon Kindle as my favorite.  In fact, I cannot think of $1.99 that has ever been better spent.

One of my wife’s friends gifted her this iPhone app.   We both tinkered with it for a while and fell in love.  I immediately went and bought it for my iPhone so we didn’t have to share anymore.  Since then, there have been many, many minutes of my life wasted making a little white arrow kill floating red dots with blocks of ice, nuclear bombs, and even black holes.

The One Bad Thing About It

I’ll start off this glowing review—and that’s what it will be—with the one bad thing about Tilt to Live.  The graphics in the game are fun.  They’re simple, but the animation is incredibly smooth.  My wife plays it on her iPhone 3GS and has no problem whatsoever.  On my first-gen iPhone, however, when there are 200-ish dots on the screen, and I use a powerful attack to take out lots at once, there is a little bit of system lag while the phone renders and calculates everything that is going on.  It’s not enough to affect gameplay, really, but it’s a qualm that I have proof does not exist in later generations of the iPhone.


Tilt To Live Official Screenshot 1 I tend to stay away from games on the iPhone (or any gaming device really) that rely solely on gimmick controls to sell the game.  I don’t buy Wii games that are based entirely around Wiimote gestures.  I don’t buy DS games that try to do new and wacky things with the touchscreen.  And I don’t buy iPhone games that make me twist and turn the phone to manipulate the screen by the accelerometer alone.

But I did with Tilt to Live. And I love it.  Unlike other “gimmick control” games, TTL actually does what you tell it to do.  There are the occasional flubs (and I swear it was the controller’s fault, not my skill as a player!) with sensitivity, but for the most part, directing my little white arrow around the screen is just as dandy as can be.

One Screen, Three Modes, Seconds of Fun

I fell in love with single-screen shooters with Geometry Wars on the Xbox Live Arcade.  This takes what I loved about GW and makes it portable and awesomer.  As of this writing, I’ve played a total of 230 games of Tilt to Live and probably 3/4 of them have lasted under 10 seconds.

But would you pay for a single screen shooter that often lasts under 10 seconds?  For two bucks, you better!

There are three modes of play: normal, where the enemy dots come at you at an increasing rate, Code Red, where it’s all out war with dots coming at you hard from the very beginning, and gauntlet, where you direct your little white arrow in and out of patterns of red dots that come at you as time runs out and you collect powerups to extend it.

I like Code Red the best, personally, as it’s the most frantic.  Playing a combination of the modes, however, will be your best bet if you want to get all the Awards and unlockable weaponry in the fastest manner possible.

Which brings me to…

Since When Do I Care About Achievements, Unlockables, Awards, and High Scores?

Since I paid my two bucks for Tilt to Live, that’s when.  In World of Warcraft, I could care less about Achievements.  Xbox Live gamerscore?  Pfft.  Even back in the day, I didn’t care about getting the high score in Pacman or Donkey Kong.  I just wanted to play.

Tilt To Live Lightning Unlocked But Tilt to Live has made me try to eke out every last point I can get in my few seconds of playing.  I want to actively seek out the Awards because they unlock things that are useful to my playing the game, unlike Xbox Live or World of Warcraft where all I get is a little epeen inflation. Most of the time, the Awards come up at seemingly random, and you will get a new weapon.  But just this afternoon, I got a new weapon by actively seeking a couple of the awards listed, and I still have much more to unlock.

And since my wife has the game, too, we can compete to see who has the higher score in any mode, which is neat since we’re both innately competitive people.  There is Facebook/Twitter support, too, and online leaderboards, but I haven’t linked mine to the internet yet.  I want to, though. You  hear that, Twitterati? Follow @professorbeej and get some updates about how awesome he is…as soon as he stops being too lazy to integrate it.

What’s That Sound?

A quick note on the music: again, normally this isn’t something I care about or even notice in most games.  But in TTL, the soundtrack consistently sounds like something one would hear in a Quentin Tarantino movie, a happy, action scene with a slight synthetic Western vibe to it.  It’s nice.  You’ll like it.

Buy It. Now!

I’m not entirely sure if there’s much way to wrap up this review except by saying—again—that you you iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch owners out there should definitely go buy this app.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a demo/lite version of it to try first, but at $1.99, it’s not a huge investment for something I can almost guarantee you will enjoy.  I can’t think of a single reason you’d be disappointed in it.  Seriously.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


    1. You definitely should, though be warned: that’s how my addiction with TTL began, too. 😉 And like I said, for two bucks? It’s very worth it.

      As of right now, my wife is beating me in terms of high score and Awards earned. I think my manly pride has been irreparably injured. 😛

  1. I got this app through free app a day and I absolutely love it. My awards points are at 400 and my high scores are:
    classic mode: about 1,500,000
    code red mode: about 3,750,000
    and gauntlet : 2:16
    I’m bad at gauntlet mode

    1. Goodness. I haven’t really played it in a while, but my awards are up to around 300, and my high scores didn’t reset like I thought they would with my upgrade to an iPhone 4. I’m going to have to re-get my normal score of around 1.7 mil, but my code red is nowhere near yours.

      I’m terrible at Gauntlet. I look forward to the new mode in the next update, though: Frostbite!

  2. I’ve been playing this game like mad, finally getting some better scores!

    Awards: 530
    Classic: 5,892,762
    Code Red: 2,227,583
    Gauntlet: 4:10
    Frostbite: 23,468 (weak, but practicing!)

    The only thing that really frustrates me is that my high scores and awards keep resetting. I think it happens whenever the battery dies, or when I sync with the computer. Has anyone else had this problem?

  3. New scores are:
    Classic: 475325
    Code red: 10,075,543
    Gauntlet: 3:16
    I’m proud of code red

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