I never paid much attention to Biology in school (although there was that one class where I became preoccupied with the notion of what might happen if you removed all traces of DNA from someone). I think I got the gist of the way the body works and didn’t find anything beyond that too worthy of my teenage time. Reproducing cells and viruses and all the microscope faffing seemed kind of dull. If only Agar.io had been on hand to show me the error of my ways. This simple little game turns a Biology lesson into a frantic, thrilling fight for survival, and does it all through moving a little coloured ball around your smartphone screen. It’s out now for iOS and Android.
Agar.io is a smartphone port of a wildly successful desktop game which saw players interact with numerous other players from around the globe. The competitive nature of the game, combined with the fact that you knew you were playing against real people, was, in my reckoning, a strong component of its success. The smartphone version follows exactly the same rules; you play online against other people, on a pre-definied board. Players come and go during the gameplay, and there’s God knows how many games occurring simultaneously.
You play as your own personal cell, and progress by consuming the dormant coloured cells scattered across the level. This increases your size, and once you’re big enough you can start to consume other players, which increases your size significantly. Bad news is though, that the bigger you get the slower you move, making it more and more tricky to avoid the pesky virus cells dotted around the playing field, which will consume or block you, depending on your size. You can also separate out into smaller division of cells to attack players who have the edge on speed. Careful though, as separating too much will result in one of the bigger boys lumbering over and eating up all your little divisions in one fell swoop, Basking shark like.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, but then again, that’s really not the point. The main point of the game is that it’s seriously addictive. Now, that’s a term that gets bandied about with these smartphone games quite a lot, but Agar.io really fits the bill. Knowing that there’s some clown on the other end of a phone somewhere in the world pursuing or fleeing from you makes both the agony and the ecstasy so much more compelling. It’s one of the most playable games I’ve come across. The only possible downside I can state (which is less and less of a downside these days) is that you have to be online to enjoy it. Other than that, it’s a crushingly addictive game, simple, enjoyable and hugely rewarding.