Archive for the ‘Arcade’ Category

Espgaluda II

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Espgaluda II

The Japanese developer, Cave, is responsible for some of my all-time favorite Bullet Hell shooters, with DoDonPachi for Sega Saturn at the top of that list. Having been fortunate enough to travel to Japan, on occasion, I have played several of their arcade releases as well, so it is no surprise that I immediately shelled out the cash for Espgaluda II. If you are at all a fan of top-down shooters, you should do the same, because this title will be an outstanding addition to your game library.

There are three different characters to choose from, each with an insanely powerful ship which progresses through multiple stages of screen-crushing upgrades. As Bullet Hell fans are aware, the real threat comes from the enemy bullets. At times, the screen is covered in a wall of bullets that the player must deftly navigate their way through at all costs. This is the core mechanic of the genre and this title nails it, in each of six killer stages, on each of three difficulty levels. There is really little else to say, as this is a near-perfect game released by an industry giant. Espagaluda II is my favorite shooter on the app store, by a fair margin, and this is unlikely to change…until Cave releases their next title.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Tilt to Live

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Tilt to Live

Tilt to Live is an excellent pick-up & play title with perfect controls, lively visuals, and host of killer power-ups. As the title suggests, all you have to do is live; red dots bad, open space good. Avoiding the evil red dots is no small task, however, because you’ll be weaving your way in an out of random dot bursts, encroaching dot rings, and solid walls of dots. To aid you is a wide array of power-ups, such as homing missiles, ice blasters, lightning strikes, and the spiked ball of death. The accelerometer gives surprisingly precise controls and the collision sphere on your ship must only be a pixel wide, because you can really get yourself out of some impossibly tight situations. This is really where the game shines; After triggering an impossible chain of power-ups at split-second intervals, while maneuvering between 50 obstacles, you really feel like you are in the zone and can’t put the game down. Not only that, but hitting the big scores on the AGON leaderboards will uncover hidden achievements that provide access to newer and bigger weapons. Tilt to Live is a challenging and addictive game that brings out the strengths of the iPhone platform.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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The Hero

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The Hero

Zombies? Check. Ninjas? Check. Swarms of killer bees, giant tanks with heat-seeking missiles, UFOs that spawn replicating green blobs from outer space? Check, check, check. Babies plummeting from tenement buildings? Check baby, check baby, 1, 2, 3. Well, it seems as though this title has something to please everyone…and to be fair, the babies do have parachutes…

You are a Superhero. Meanies invade the neighborhood. You look at your directional radar and fly at the meanies. You defeat them simply by flying into them, but using a little of your boost gauge helps. To fill your boost gauge, you give high-fives to the local residents that pop out of the windows frequently. You also have to put out fires, destroy uber-bombs, and make sure you don’t destroy too many civilian cars in the process. Killing creeps and high-fiving peoples increases your Fame meter. Do neither and your Fame meter decreases to nothing and your game ends. The further you get into the game, the more things you have to manage simultaneously, which is the core focus of the game.

The controls provide very fluid movement, albeit with a limited turning radius. Managing your boost is key as are your special powers; the two I’ve unlocked thus far are Freeze and Boom; both act as you would expect. There are two modes, Campaign and Survival, each with their own set of challenges. The soundtrack is upbeat and well-crafted, there are a number of achievements to gain, and the whole package is very polished.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Street Fighter IV

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Street Fighter IV

Yes, you read that right; a full-fledged version of Street Fighter IV that is in the arcades now. Okay, it’s only partially-fledged, but it is more than I expected and it’s a blast. Here’s the lowdown:

8 characters – Ryu and Ken, of course, Chun-Li, Blanka, Abel, Guile, Dhalsim, and M. Bison. Yes, it is missing a whole slew of characters and most likely your second or third favorite character is not there (…no Akuma!!!!!), but get over it. I might. Akuma is allegedly being released as DLC anyway.
4 buttons – Punch, Kick, Special, and Focus. That’s right, 2 punches and 2 kicks are missing. Hmm…
Moves – Most of the moves are present that did not require the missing buttons. They did, however, add pairings of a punch or a kick with directional taps, that adds several moves to each kit, which was clever.
Mechanics – Combos, Specials, Ultras, EX moves, Reversals, Technicals, Super-Cancels, and throw counters, all there, thankfully.
Controls – Better than expected. The virtual joystick works really well, once you get used to the enormous size of it. The controls work well enough, in fact, that I would have rather had an extra punch and kick button and if you couldn’t do the specials right, then tough KO, chump. Supers and Ultras can be executed by using the normal moves or by simply tapping the corresponding gauges. While this makes sense from an accessibility standpoint and even a gameplay standpoint, actually, it still feels a bit strange.
Modes – Tournament, Dojo (with a secret bonus), Free-Sparring, Training Room, and Versus…
Multiplayer – Affirmative; Versus = multiplayer. Local Bluetooth only, with local leaderboards; no online play or leaderboards. Waahhh.
7 stages - The backgrounds are noticeably flat, with no parallax; just a scrolling floor. I think it’s a good trade-off, particularly because it allowed for the next two bullet points.
Framerate – Excellent framerate on a 3GS, even during Bluetooth matches. Haven’t tried it on my antique 1st-gen yet, because I chose to get the review up fast, instead.
Graphics – The characters and particle effects look really good.  To me, the characters look like sprites generated from 3D models, but I could be wrong. They look good, regardless.

It is Street Fighter, it is fun, and it is on your iPhone. Those are the 3 biggest selling points, in my opinion. Several compromises were made to ship it on this platform, which is to be expected, and it was rushed out the door. I would understand if any of the aforementioned issues were a deal-breakers for people; personally, I would have given up the beautiful intro cinematic and any number of extra modes for more characters and online play. Having said that, though, it is still a must-have title for me and for SF fans everywhere. I’m having a great time experiencing the game all over again, only this time, while driving!

Capcom recently inked a deal with Gameloft to have them produce Street Fighter Alpha, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and several other titles. Who’s to say what else Capcom has up their collective sleeves, because there is also a movie for Super Street Fighter IV included in this game…no official announcement for an iPhone version, but maybe if this one sells well…

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Space Miner: Space Ore Bust

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Space Miner

If these guys would have told me they were developing an Asteroids/Sinistar RPG, I would have said they were nuts. Well, after playing it, I’d have to say you would be nuts not to buy it. It’s an  innovative hybrid with quirky characters, humorous dialog, a beautifully engineered progression system, and addictive gameplay.

The idea here is that you have a space station that serves as a hub for your adventures, populated by a small but diverse group of characters, each with their own motivation and personality. You receive quests here and then pilot your ship out into the surrounding sectors of space to not only complete the mission, but also to mine for ore, which is used to upgrade your ship.

Ship upgrades have both breadth and depth. There are a total of seven ship sections to upgrade: hulls, reactors, engines, collectors, weapons, shields, and scanners. Within each of these categories, there are countless upgrades of varying costs and abilities, enough to scroll off of the screen. Hours of gameplay, witty banter, and upgrade goodness here; don’t pass it up.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon

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Eco Punk

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Eco Punk

From the creators of Rasta Monkey, comes this sordid tale which begins on a street corner of a what looks to be a major metropolitan area populated with dispicable people that dispose of garbage out the windows of their gas-guzzling cars; cardboard boxes, bottles, stand-up basses, full cases of Brillo pads, piggy banks, gameboys, underpants, you name it. Apparently, these tossers are ignorant of how litter affects our environment, but luckily, the protagonist of our story is enviromentally conscience and he is here to save the day.

Our hero looks to be some type of a skateboarding Anarchist punk rock rabbit cookie-head and his job is to skate around the city block picking up refuse by running over it with his skateboard, all the while, avoiding the careless motorists. Picking up multiple bits of garbage in sequence provides a progressive-scoring chain combo that scales with the number of items snatched. That’s not all, sometimes power-ups drop, such as a laser machine gun or invincibility, so you can mow through the pigs on their goofy Segways. There are three modes of play; Classic, Timebend, and Blitz. Classic is the basic mode that ends when you become roadkill, cars in Timebend only move when you do (making it much less hectic, but still lethal) and Blitz is simply a timed mode.

Since there is only one map that covers just one street corner, the developers were able to render some beautifully lit  and detailed artwork. The game has personality and I love the stylized look and, even though it is somewhat limited in scope and depth, I still played it for 50 games straight and even got an achievement to prove it, thanks to the OpenFeint support. The touch controls are amazingly fluid and make D-Pad controls seem outdated. It’s a fun diversion and you may even decide compete with your friends to see who can become the most celebrated Eco Punk.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Guerilla Bob

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Guerilla Bob

This is a really polished game and I think it feels somewhat like what some people were expecting with the intial release of MiniGore (which I also recommend). Guerilla Bob is a dual-stick shooter with a zoomed out view, in which you fight four core enemy types; the grunt, the flamethrower, the bomber, and the nuker. Each of the enemies sometimes requires different tactics, as do the several boss characters. You have three weapons that upgrade at various points in the missions; machine gun, rocket launcher, and flamethrower. Several items and powerups drop too, such as speed, damage, and armor. There are several missions, but most of them tend to feel like, “walk straight forward, shoot stuff, strafe to gather power-ups”, with the exception of the bulldozer level, the river rafting, and the final mission that opens at the end of the game. This Survival Mode harkens back to MiniGore, because it has a bigger arena in which to battle huge waves of foes. By the way, his life bar is a cigar! Now, If only they could come up with some way to combine the aforementioned games…

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Project 72

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Project 72

Yo, peep this: 4 kewl dewds up in Venice Beach, by way of Sweden, decide they want to develop an iPhone game, from start to finish, in 72 hours. Project 72 is the result of this tweaked out madness and it is all documented here: Dogtown Studios, so check it.

Knowing that the game was developed in just 72 hours, I have to say that it exceeds my expectations in almost every way; the graphics are stylish and crisp, the soundtrack is bumpin’, and the gameplay is superb. It is perfect in its approachability, but still extremely challenging, which is a hard thing to accomplish. This is textbook Pick-Up-and-Play, folks; keep it simple and fun, present repeatable challenges, and make it compelling enough to make the player want to play it, “just one more time.”

A message to the guys at Dogtown: quit your day jobs…and if this is your day job, then get back to work! The days of 6-month development cycles are behind us now, so I’ll have my dollar ready for you when your next game releases on Friday.
Dog + Town = Win.

I was so excited, I forgot to tell you what the game is! It’s a casual-ish dodging game, in which the player guides a 50′s future rocket ship through space, avoiding asteroids, and nabbing powerups. The most important one being fuel, because if you run out – game over, loser. Same way with black holes; here’s a pro-tip from our boy Yuri – you see a black hole, steer starboard or port…not both. What makes it exciting and kind sorta somewhat insanely difficult is that your ship speeds up…and up…and exponentially up! Luckily, there is always a nearby object to help you gradually apply the brakes (hint: it starts with “a” and ends with “steroids”). My rating reflects the pure kickbuttedness of this idea and the team of lunatics behind it. I hope others will follow in their wake. Poehali!

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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MiniSquadron

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

This is a really nice effort, similar to the PC game Altitude, which is a great game, in its own right. This version lacks the upgrade choices, but it does offer a huge variety of planes to unlock (50+, I think). The controls are excellent; in fact, I prefer them to the PC game. The graphics are amazing, as well; you really should see it in action, because the planes execute perfect barrel rolls and loops, with smoke pouring out the back the whole time. Instead of stationary, preset powerup locations, the devs opted for random ones that drop from the sky, which removes a bit of the Quake-style map grok and increases the difficulty. It’s a really good game, regardless, and you can play against a friend via wifi or against AI in a sequenced campaign mode. This one is definitely worth a look.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Hook Champ

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This grapple app seems to be pretty popular. You just grapple this dewd through caverns to collect gold and avoid the monster that chases you. It has an old skool vibe and it seems to have lasting power.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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