APP OF THE DAY: Sortee review (iPhone)

A game about sorting - surely that can't be any more fun than filing papers, long division or watching paint dry? Well, it is. Sortee, which is somewhat like a virtual version of Hasbro's "Bop It" minus the rhythm, is all about fast reaction times and memory. It's brilliant and, in that simultaneous head-patting, stomach-rubbing way, is about as annoying and difficult as it is fun.

Sortee

Format
iOS (iPhone & iPad)
Price
£0.69 for full game
Where
iTunes

Sortee will really suit certain minds - we're sure that Rain Man would score a million points with his eyes shut - but there's something in this game for everyone.

The premise is very simple: objects fly towards the screen and need to be sorted via a quick swipe into their appropriate chutes within a given time. Failure to do so results in virtual screen-smashing and then, crunch, it's game over. Death by sofa, fish, cactus, oven glove or any number of bizarre objects. It's not a nice way to go. There's the occasional desire to really smash your Apple device's screen, of course, but that's just the sign of a good game being better than it's slow-witted player.

It may sound about as glamorous as a bin man's daily rounds, but the assembly of graphics, power-ups, chute-swaps and non-sortable nasties makes for a more complex and enthralling game.

To begin with it's simple fare. Two chutes labelled with two words - whether green and yellow, indoors and outdoors, paper and metal among a multitude of other possibilities - provides the divison, one to the left, the other to the right. Adsorb those words, meanings and locations to the brain and then tap to begin. Objects fly out of the desert backdrop at the screen at fair speed, but as they begin from a distance away it can sometimes be tricky to work out even what they are, which adds to the difficulty.

Just when you've got the hang of the basics, the game introduces swaps where the destinations shift around and you'll promptly need to reassign everything in your head in order not to fail and die. And that's just with two possible sorting chutes. Add three, four and beyond and the game quickly gets much harder.

There are other nasties too. Everything needs to be sorted with the exception of cacti surrounded by buzzing flies which need to be electro-fried with a two finger tap on the screen. That added dimension of tapping as well as the basic swipe is an additional action to log to the brain. Then there are sandstorms which make it harder to define what objects are, while the assigned words over chutes can fade out in other episodes, made all the more difficult to deal with when split mode throws multiple objects to the screen at once.

There are power-ups to aid proceedings which can be invaluable. Extra health is the game's equivalent of Autoglass, there's "Hint" to assist with where to sort - more useful for those moments when the chute labels have vanished - and "Slow Time" which, as it suggests, will slow down the descending timer.

Mix it all up and Sortee is the end product. It's one of those games that can be picked up and played on the fly, although the amount of time it takes to load is the one and only real moan we have with the game. Well, that and the fact that the fence-sitting tomato is considered a vegetable.

There are multiple ways to play, too. Whether the classic level-by-level mode, fast play for arcade-style play, or the "Yours" mode where imported rounds - as designed by you and other Sortee gamers and selected by the design team - can be selected from SorteeGame.com. Nice touch.

Sortee is free to download for its initial set of levels. For a tougher challenge you'll need to part with a mere 69p to play the later, more complex levels. It's either that or set up some recycling bins around the living room and throw a mixture of objects in them... and we know which we'd prefer to play.