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Phone Fight wonders if my iOS device can beat up your iOS device (hands-on preview)

Our smartphones are our lightsabers, our magic wands, and our sonic screwdrivers: They’re always with us, we customize them to match our personalities, and we use them for everything. Mobile game developer Mob In Life hopes to build on that relationship with Phone Fight, a free-to-play iOS game due out next week.

The idea behind Phone Fight is simple: It turns your iPhone into a Tamagotchi-like virtual pet (called a “Mobi”) that you then send off to do battle with other people’s devices. The game also has a story mode about a bunch of evil viruses that you must defeat because they’re, you know, evil. Meanwhile, you have to keep your Mobi in a good mood by doing things like feeding it cupcakes and giving it compliments (don’t worry, they’re virtual compliments. You don’t have to talk to your phone).

When the time comes to throw down, the process is entirely automatic. The two combatants basically exchange blows until one of their life bars is empty. You can equip up to four weapons and special items at a time, but you don’t get to pick which ones your Mobi uses or when. Instead, you level up an “intelligence” stat that makes your buddy better at knowing when and how to use its inventory.

This makes sense considering Phone Fight’s premise that you are molding and nurturing your phone into a self-reliant, capable hero, but this lack of interactivity is a little disappointing. Your job during clashes is to collect the coins that come flying off of your opponent when your phone shoots or hits it with a mailbag or whatever. It would be nice to offer a little more guidance to your Mobi, but I guess part of training your phone for combat is learning how to let go.

Coins are just one form of currency you’ll be managing in Phone Fight, and you use them to buy those cupcakes and new weapons. You also accumulate “Sims” (SIM cards) to accelerate the countdowns before new items and facial features unlock. Finally, your Mobi requires energy to fight; a battery-shaped meter in the upper-right corner tells you how many rounds it has in it. You can gather these things naturally by playing the game, watching promotional videos, or simply waiting, or you can — you guessed it — pay a few real dollars to get a bunch at once.

The game also employs social connectivity via Facebook, so you and your friends’ Mobis can duel each other. I didn’t get a chance to use this feature during my time with the game, but I like to imagine that it could be a handy way to settle disputes over pizza toppings or who, exactly, should be the mayor of Red Mango.

Phone Fight will be available in the iOS App Store on January 31.


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