Best iPad games: Symphonica

Square-Enix's bizarre orchestra conducting game is an oddball treat

Apple has revolutionised how we consume and play portable games with iPhone and iPad. In this new regular series, CVG discovers and celebrates the most innovative new iOS games on the App Store. Click through the links to find our full list of best iPad and best iPhone games.


Best iPad games: Symphonica

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Square-Enix's latest App Store experiment is Rock Band does Radio 3 in Japan. You are a trainee orchestra conductor in this oddball, oh-so Japanese rhythm action game.

What that means is tapping and swiping along to Symphonica's repertoire of well-known classical ditties. Keep in time and the orchestra plays well, passing the stage to advance the narrative. The plot revolves around you, the aspiring conductor, a strange supernatural doll named Chloe plus a gang of other characters.

Presumably we all learn valuable life lessons by overcoming adversity by the end. I don't know. Not being a fan of texty, interminable cut-scenes, I skipped every single one to get to the meat of the game, which is surprisingly excellent.

It's certainly not the kind of game to be idly dipped into - headphones are essential and absolute concentration is just as important. Mozart and Tchaikovsky's tunes are made all the more rousing when you tap along, and the varied ways in which you conduct your orchestra lead your fingers a merry dance.

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One and two finger taps are the most common commands, providing a foundation of short, sharp percussive stabs. Longer notes are replicated on-screen by holding your finger(s) down on the screen, while pinches and swipes play other parts in your one or two digit symphony.

Episodes 1-3 are free, with episodes thereafter costing £1.99 each. You can also choose to buy four at a time for £4.99 or the entire set of 12 episodes and four bonus chapters for £10.49. The first three episodes provide an excellent hours' worth of free entertainment, though. The only drawback is having to slog through the dialogue, unless you happen to be a fan of surreal Manga-esque melodrama. There is also a concert mode, in which you can practice the tunes you have unlocked in the main game.

Symphonica is an odd game, but one well worth sampling for free, despite those cut scenes. Square-Enix has turned conducting your own iOS orchestra into an unexpected thrill.

Symphonica's first three chapters are free on the App Store. Download it here.