With a familiar vworp vworp, Doctor Who is materialising on the iPad and . The Mazes of Time is a new puzzle game starring Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as his assistant Amy Pond. It's launching in app form today, leading the way for a madcap Top Gear Stunt School game also from the BBC. We put on our best tweed and had a play.
The new iOS game is a simple puzzle affair. The Doctor and Amy wander into each new room, where blocks form obstacles to switches and levers. You control the Time Lord and his auburn assistant one at a time by simply moving your thumb anywhere on the screen to direct them in a particular direction, collecting timey-wimey orbs and jammy dodgers as you go.
The Doctor can use his gangly legs to climb over blocks, while Amy -- probably hampered by her short skirt -- can only crawl under obstructions. The Doctor can also push blocks to clear a path and hold levers down, unlocking the route through each room and opening the next door.
The charmingly retro-feeling adventure felt to us like a stripped-down, child-friendly version of logic puzzlers such as Portal and Beneath A Steel Sky, as you journey from Shakespearian England to steel and glass spaceships, via Incan temples and scorched mines deep below the Earth. Cybermen, Silurians and Daleks patrol the levels, resolutely not noticing you until you walk right in front of them.
One good bit involves luring Cybermen into an electrical field to temporarily incapacitate them. All the monsters are easily dodged, but we liked the accurate enemy voices and sounds. The fan highlight is a jaunt to the classic series tombs of Telos, but sadly there are no box-mouthed old-school Cyberpopsicles busting loose. Further enemies and locations will be added in future.
The forthcoming Top Gear Stunt School game is much more varied, with a range of driving challenges based on the TV show. These range from delicately steering an explosive-laden armoured personnel carrier through a tricky slalom to firing cars and caravans off giant ramps.
Another level lets you customise a car with ever more ridiculous accoutrements -- from crazy body mods to giant dart feathers -- before setting the Stig loose on the Top Gear track in the resulting contraption.
Although the varied games and nifty details are every bit as wacky as Richard Hammond's zany shirts, the fun is drained from the app by the impossible driving controls. Maybe we've got the shakes from one too many mojitos, but we found that even the slightest movement sent our car careering all over the shop.
The Doctor Who app is available now for Apple devices, and will arrive on Android in 2011. Which BBC programme would you like to see in iPad-friendly form?