Search Results for: label/Shooter/index.html

Number of Results: 22

Combombo [Wales Interactive] – FREE

There are so many great games in the AppStore that don’t get nearly enough attention, and are highly underrated. Miss Claire Garden, iDaTank, Space Tripper, Fractal Combat, Magnetic Baby, Up And Up!, Jelly Pops, Light Guardian, Eve of Impact, Awesome Saucer, Cubes Vs. Spheres,  I can go on and on and on and on. It really is a shame that all of these fantastic games get buried under hundreds and thousands of other games that don’t even compare. So is the nature of the AppStore. One such title happens to have been released last month. Developed by Wales Interactive, not really known for anything, they have put out 5 other releases; Kitten Calculator, Jibs Jump, Mrs Sprat Next Doors Cat, World Torch Challenge and Mr Frog the Neighbors Dog, all of which have basically tanked. But Wales Interactive has pushed on, and finally developed one outstanding game. Combombo. 
Combombo is a retro inspired arcade shooting game with some obvious influences from Pang. You’re put in control of a little character named Bombo. No one really knows where he’s from, or why he’s here, but one thing’s certain; he’s addicted to coins. And his top-hat, of course. Controlling Bombo is easy; drag your finger along the screen to move him. That’s it. While he’s moving, he automatically fires purple blobs of goo that turn green orbs red. Once you stop moving, Bombo produces a shield that will protect him from the orbs for a short time. If you get hit by an orb, you loose a life. Now, here’s where it gets incredibly fun – the goal of the game is to turn as many green orbs into red orbs as you can, by automatically shooting them, so that you can bank your points and collect your coins, a lot like Flip Ship’s scoring mechanics. If you get hit before you bank all your points, you’ll loose the points you’ve built up. The more red orbs you have on the screen, the higher your combo, and the more points you’ll receive. 
There are 4 separate gameplay modes in Combombo; Waves Mode, Speed Mode, Timed Mode and Lives Mode. Waves Mode starts out slow, only spitting out one green orb at first. But as you progress through this mode, more and more orbs are added to the mix, and soon, it’s one hectic free-for-all. Speed Mode requires that you bank at least 10 red orbs before you cash in in order to speed up. You start at 1, but for each set of 10 red orbs that you bank, the speed goes up. Timed Mode gives you 90 seconds to bank as many points as you possibly can, while Lives Mode gives you the chance to bank as many points as you can with only one life and one shield. 
Graphically, Combombo is extremely colorful. The environments all contain nice details, but the colors are dulled down a bit to make the incredibly vibrant orbs stand out against it. As you can imagine, this helps quite a bit, especially when the game gets hectic, and you’ve got 20+ orbs flying around in all directions. The animations are well executed, and add to the overall polish of the game, while the sounds and background music complete the picture. 
Originally priced at $0.99, you can pick up Combombo for FREE right now via Being Universal, it looks, and plays great on the bigger screen as well. However, there is one fairly big downside. There is no GameCenter integration. This means no achievements, and, since no leaderboards are contained within the game, no scoreboards. This does put a fairly big damper on the otherwise fantastic score-chasing drive of the game, and does take away from the long time replay value. Hopefully GameCenter can be added in a future update, but like almost every other title, I can really only see this happening if the game sells well. But with it FREE for the time being, you should definitely take the opportunity to download the game, and write up a review in iTunes, as well as help spread the word about this fantastic title. Otherwise, it’ll just fade away like so many before it. 

Review Rewind: Fractal Combat

Alrighty, I’d like to welcome everyone to The App Shack’s first ever Review Rewind, a new section of TAS that will spotlight reviews that were posted exactly one year ago, but only for games that are still on our devices today. Our very first Review Rewind is Newtype K.K.’s fantastic Aerial Combat title, Fractal Combat. One year ago today, I was first exposed to this amazing game. Since then, it’s gone through 6 updates, and quite a few changes and tweaks, making the game better each time. It’s made its way onto our Writer’s Favorites list as my very own #10 favorite iOS game ever, and we also gave out 5 promo codes for it over the last week during our Big Ass Promo Code Giveaway, but if you don’t have it yet, it’s definitely one iOS title you need to own. Here it is; Fractal Combat. 
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Fractal Combat is a new aerial combat game from NewType K.K. It’s also their first offering to the AppStore, but it sure doesn’t show in their presentation. Fractal Combat is a very polished, top notch aerial combat game. The fractal graphics are wonderful, the music is great, and the controls are user interface are phenomenal. I really was not expecting what I got out of this game. The animations of the exploding enemies, along with the flaming bits of wreckage you see after the explosion is great. You rarely find this much attention to detail within games like this on the iOS, and seeing that it can be done, and done very well, might make you start to think less of all the other aerial combat games in the AppStore. 
You’re given 10 missions throughout each of the 7 different landscapes, that‘s a whopping 70 missions. Each of the missions it’s your job to take out the targets, highlighted in red on the map. While you’re going after the targets, you’ll be bombarded by enemies that show up on the radar as yellow triangles. Each time you blow an enemy up, they leave behind some energy which if collected, gives you some shield. If you have no shield power, your armor, which is pretty much health, gets knocked down with each hit. Once you have no armor, you’re dead, and need to start at the beginning of the mission. If you happen to succeed in the mission, you’re awarded with a rating of 1 to 3 stars, along with credits which you can use to buy better weapons, generators, radars and even new ships in the garage. There’s 5 ships total that you can unlock by progressing through the game, and then buy. Each has stronger armor, more shield capacity, and a different flight mode, or way of flying. For instance, you start off with a ship that has thrusters for flight, and the next ship up that you can buy uses magnetic rotors. There’s 7 different weapons, each with different speed, range, damage, and other attributes. 3 different radars, and 5 different generators. There’s slots in the game to have 6 profiles, so you can play the game on a device that’s shared between friends or family, and not end up playing each others games, or you can just start from scratch, and re-organize how you set up your weapons and which ships you buy.
You are given two choices of control options, a joystick which you can have on the left or right hand side of the screen, or you can use your devices accelerometer, and tilt while you play. You can also set the sensitivity, angle of accelerometer, and put the throttle on the left or right side of the screen. Fire buttons are on both the left and right hand sides of the bottom of the screen if you decide to use tilt controls, and on the opposite side of the screen of the joystick, if you decide to use that control method. However, you are not able to change the Y direction, so pressing up on the control pad makes you go down, and pressing down makes you go up. Which is not the case for tilt controls, tilting the top of your iPod towards you makes the ship go up, and away from you to go down. This set up is a tad weird, but manageable if you’re use to default settings in most aerial combat games. You can also change the music and fx volume, which is always a nice option, and there is, of course, a reset to default option, just in case you end up screwing everything up and want to start from scratch. All-n-all, there’s quite a bit of customization going on in the options menu. But I think an option to turn the HUD display on or off would have been a good idea too, as it can seem kind of crowded on the screen, but not in a way that distracts from the gameplay.
The only real thing I think this game is missing is another mode, or a story. I know it’s not easy to create a story for a game, and it’s pretty much pointless to just cram a story into a game just for the hell of it, but if Fractal Combat had a story to go along with the missions, like why you’re fighting these ships, why they’re you’re enemies, something so that you know WHY, it would make this game a lot better. That, along with a survival mode, where you could take your fully equipped ship into a battle that only ended when you got shot down, would make this an even more amazing game. But with what it has now, Fractal Combat is still worthy of 4.5 out of 5 stars, and comes along with a strong recommendation from me. Anyone who’s into aerial combat, flight sims, or just action and arcade games in general should check this out one, it’s a game that you will never regret buying. It’s universal, and only $1.99.
**Note: Fractal Combat is now priced at $0.99

Running With Ninjas [Justin Hogie] – $0.99

Shoot-em-ups. They’ve grown in popularity quite a bit since the introduction of the AppStore and iDevice. The touch controls make pin-point accuracy and quick movements that would otherwise be impossible as easy as dragging your thumb across a 3.5 inch glass screen. However, the 3D, 3rd Person/On-Rails shooter genre has been basically left out of this Shmup Revolution, with only a couple of titles available for the platform; Wizard Ops, Denizen, Dark Break, ExZeus, TheMars, Battle 3D 2: Iron Punch, and the more open-world type game, Battle 3D: Robots Sky. These titles have provided iOS gamers with countless Space Harrier type entertainment. But sadly, aside from these titles, there’s not others for fans of the genre to sink their teeth into. One-man, Australia-based Justin Hogie obviously knows this, but has still taken a wild chance with his first original iOS title, and created another game we can all add to that extremely short list; Running With Ninjas. 

Running With Ninjas is an Endless 3rd Person On-Rails Shooter that puts you in control of a ninja running through the jungle and mountains while being attacked by, and attacking, other ninjas who are bound and determined to take you out. RWN contains one gameplay mode which has you defeating as many ninjas as you can before your health completely runs out. When you start out, you’ll only see 2 different enemies; Red and Green. Red enemies will throw Shurikens straight forward and once defeated, add to your special meter; displayed as writing under your health bar. Green enemies do not attack you, instead, once defeated, they will slightly refill your health bar. As you progress through the world, you’ll soon realize that these are not the only types of enemies. Bosses with strange turtle like shields on their backs, purple enemies that throw Shurikens directly at you, yellow enemies that toss bombs and more will all be after your head, and when all of these different types of enemies are on the screen at the same time, things can get a little hairy. 

Once you defeat a boss, a scroll appears. These scrolls, once collected, give your ninja special powers, and this is where the special meter comes into play. After you collect a scroll, a special power is unlocked. To use this special power, you’ll need to draw a shape in the middle of the screen. This does take some getting use to, and I still think that buttons up the sides of the screen, or easier swipe gestures, like just swiping left to right, or up and down would have been a better fit, especially since the gestures are a little hard to remember, and can take more than a second or two to pull off, that is, if you can pull it off correctly. Each special power requires a certain amount of power from your special gauge. Once you have enough power, you can draw a certain symbol on the screen, and POW, enemies are in for some trouble. 

The controls are fairly simple; you’re given a button for jumping, and a button for throwing your own Shuriken. Moving left and right is controlled by tilting your device. Normally, I don’t think I would have checked out a 3rd Person On-Rails Shooter that was tilt controlled, but the controls in Running With Ninjas fit the game extremely well. Also making it feel even better is the great camera control. When you tilt your device, your character moves, but so does the environment. This makes it a lot easier to focus on the gameplay, and not worry so much about where your character is located in the gameplay area. However, if you’re not comfortable with the tilting environment, you can always turn this option off in the settings menu, making the environment stay level as you tilt. I have experienced some issues with the controls, like an occasionally unresponsive jump button, some jitteriness while moving in the air, sometimes resulting in taking damage when I should have avoided a bomb, and some slight sticking of the character while on the edges of the gameplay area. However, these were all occasional, and not game-breaking by any means. 
The graphics are pretty minimal, with very little details in the environments and characters, however, this does help to make the bright enemies stick out like a sore thumb, making it easier to focus on them while running at full speed through the environments. The animations are well done, with nice enemy appearance and death animations, cool looking special powers, and nice running animations also add to the feel and polish of the game. 

With only one gameplay mode, and some needed tweaks that could make the gameplay a little smoother, not everyone is going to jump on the Running With Ninjas bandwagon. However, if you’re a fan of the genre, and willing to take a chance on a game that has some very solid core gameplay mechanics, for $0.99, you just might be very surprised. In the near future, Justin Hogie has said that GameCenter leaderboards and achievements, as well as possibly another gameplay mode that would revolve around preset challenges and levels, along with some additions to the enemies, stages, and special power scrolls. Hopefully RWN sells well and gets enough attention that these things can be added, because right now, Running With Ninjas shows an extreme amount of promise, and provides some great endless gameplay.

Major Mayhem [Adult Swim + Rocket Jump] – FREE

Adult Swim has published some fantastic games over the last year. Monsters Ate My Condo, Bring Me Sandwiches!!, Snoticles, and more. But recently, a little title that really just seemed to really slide by a lot of gamers, Rocket Jump’s Major Mayhem got a huge, and I mean HUGE update. 3 new gameplay modes, a crazy amount of weapons and equip items and one of the most requested features, GameCenter achievements (100 of them!) have all been added to the game. Major Mayhem has also gone free, following the freemium trends with the hopes of recouping some of the costs of development. Not to worry though, as this has got to be one of the best paid to freemium conversions to ever happen within the AppStore.

Back in November of 2011, Rocket Jump released Major Mayhem. Being published by Adult Swim, and having a bunch of advertising done on late-night TV, and across the net, it was pretty surprising that the game didn’t really sell too well. Maybe it was because gamers were hoping for some more strange and goofy games after Monsters Ate My Condo and Bring Me Sandwiches!, maybe they were let down by Shadowngun and EPOCH, and didn’t really want to take another chance on the cover-based shooter, but whatever it was, Rocket Jump dove back into the game to try and make it stand out in the AppStore, and recoup some of their losses at the same time. 

One week ago, the Version 2.0 update went live, and I, along with others, were thoroughly impressed with the new game. 3 new gameplay modes, TimeBomb, which has you trying to get the best score you can in 60 seconds, Arcade, which has you go through the levels in random order trying to get the best score you can, without getting any health drops throughout the game, and Survival Mode, which has you trying to survive a whole world without any continues. Not only were new modes added, but a whole gang of power-ups, weapons, and cosmetic equip items were thrown into the mix as well. 
On top of all of this, the game was converted to a freemium title, with the hopes that more players would pick it up for free, see how much content the game has, and how incredibly fun it is, and want to support Rocket Jump by purchasing the game’s new currency. Those who still had the game on their device when the update hit also got 20,000 coins, which would have cost them about $1.99 with the new IAPs, as a little thank you. However, not many people did still have the game on their device, but luckily, the IAPs are very unobtrusive, and are not required to unlock or purchase anything new in the game. You’re able to unlock every game mode, and purchase every new weapon and cosmetic item just by playing and progressing through the game. 
Back when the game was originally released, a lot of players were upset that there weren’t any GameCenter achievements. These have also been added to the game, and not just a couple, a whole mass of achievements and objectives were included. Now, you can try and unlock the 100 GameCenter achievements, as well as try and grab all 150 and the game’s objectives. Set up like Jetpack Joyride’s objectives, every time you earn 3 or 4 of them, you gain a new rank. You’re also awarded with a random prize for every rank you reach, as well as 50 coins for each objective you complete. With the GameCenter achievements, you’re given even more coins, depending on how many GC points the achievement is worth. 

Major Mayhem’s move to freemium is easily the best I’ve seen happen with any game in the AppStore. It’s obvious that an incredible amount of time, effort, and work has gone into making Major Mayhem one of the best cover-based shooters available on the iOS, and it’s incredibly surprising that all of this was done for free, with the hopes that people would purchase IAPs. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now would be the perfect time. Rocket Jump has definitely proven that they are in it for the long-haul, and know exactly what it takes to go above and beyond to create an outstanding video game. 

Bio Crisis [Sphinx Entertainment] – $2.99

Sphinx Entertainment has released some awesome games in the past; Carrot War, VR Mission, Mole Dash, League of Extraordinary Birds, and more. Their newest title, however, is easily their best yet. Bio Crisis, a title that’s won numerous Indie Game Design Awards, has been polished up and released for the iOS, and takes it’s place next to the small, but growing list, of cover based shooters. 
Bio Crisis throws you into the roll of Night Hawk, a marine who’s guided by Claire, the operator of the Missions, who is pretty much your tutorial master. It’s 2035, and Earth’s resources are depleted. Thankfully, a meteor that wound up landing somewhere near the jungle that use to be the South Pole has been found. It’s said to contain a mysterious crystal which could be a source of great power. Your mission is to find Bull Dog, another operative who hasn’t been able to be reached since finding Crystal Samples. 
Like other cover-based shooters, you’re outfitted with various weapons, and will need to fight your way through loads of enemies in order to complete your objective. But with Bio Crisis being a top-down type shooter, it allows for some great strategic additions. This is amplified by the great level design, and positioning of barriers which you’re able to take cover behind.
All of this would be pretty much meaningless if it weren’t for the great control system. You’re given a virtual joystick, roll, fire and reload buttons. Once you get close to a barrier, Night Hawk automatically takes cover behind it, blocking all of the projectiles coming your way, and in order to make it through the game without running out of ammo, you’ll need to figure out what weapon best serves the situation. You’re outfitted with an auto riffle, shotgun, missile launcher, grenades, and a laser gun, and switching between all of them throughout each level is basically mandatory. Your shotgun is great for taking out enemies close-by, while your riffle is better for enemies further away. If you’ve got enemies back to back, the laser is able to shoot through them, hitting all of them at once, and the missile launcher and grenades take care of bigger enemies or groups of enemies. You’re also equipped with a knife, which you’ll be able to use when you’re close to an enemy. You automatically use it by pressing the ‘fire’ button, no matter what weapon is equipped. 
There are 24 Missions, and every 6th Mission you’ll come across a boss battle. Here, you’ll need to figure out how to use the environment and your heavy weapons to best serve you. The first boss battle is fairly easy, requiring you to roll out of the way when the boss comes charging at you, and then shoot missiles and throw grenades at him once he hit’s the wall and is dazed. However, the second boss has some great armor, and in order to take him out you’ll need to figure out where to stand in order to make him damage himself. 
There are goals which you’ll need to complete in order to unlock the other gameplay modes; Brutal, Insane and Hell. To unlock Brutal Mode, you need to kill 100 enemies with grenades, for Insane, you need to kill 999 enemies, and for Hell Mode, you’ll need to kill 500 enemies with your knife. 
There is a shop, with IAPs included in the game. In the shop, you can upgrade your weapons, as well as purchase ammo if you happen to run out. The IAP is for coins. You also earn these coins by playing through the game. With each enemy you kill, you’re given coins, and are given lump sums after completing boss stages. While progressing through the game, you’ll also come across ammo containers which help out with the ammo. You will run out of ammunition if you blast away emptying clip after clip into an enemy after their dead, or just decide to only use one gun the entire time you’re playing. But the game is centered around strategically figuring out what weapon best suit’s the situation, and carefully planning out your attacks. It isn’t a blast everything to smithereens while not keeping an eye on your ammo type of game. Your health is also pretty limited, but does regenerate. 
You can automatically refill your health for 300 coins if you don’t want to wait, but again, you will be dying and loosing a lot of health if you just decide to run into a group of enemies and start blasting away. Players that don’t use some strategy and don’t use each weapon as it’s meant to be used will probably wind up feeling like they’re being pushed towards buying coins through the in-app-purchases. However, you can also go back and replay missions that you’ve already beat if you wound up loosing all of your ammo by being careless. You’ll earn the same amount of coins as you did the first time you played through the level, so this can help out a lot. 
With Bio Crisis priced at $2.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy for gamers looking for another cover-based shooter, or a shooter that requires thought rather than mindless killing. Sphinx Entertainment has definitely raised their own bar, as well as created a fantastic cover-based shooter that can hold it’s own within the genre. The game could use GameCenter support, with achievements, and possibly leader boards, but with the amount of content, there’s already quite a bit that’ll keep you coming back to the game, even after you beat the Campaign Mode. Bio Crisis is highly recommended for fans of the genre, especially if you’re sick of the mindless shooters found throughout the AppStore. 

Buster Spirits [Iskandar Inc.] – $1.99

Every time a new shmup hits the AppStore, I get extremely excited, especially when it’s from a well known developer. Iskandar, developer of Bit-1, Brutal Fantasy, Cut Him Up, and the ever popular shmup, Buster Red, has just released a follow-up to Buster Red called Buster Spirits. This time around, Iskandar has created a shmup more directed towards fans of the genre than another casual shooter. 
The first thing that stands out about Buster Spirits are the new graphics. Even though they’re retro-inspired, and look old-school, they’re a huge change from Buster Red, which had a more cartoony look to it. But aside from the graphics, like most sequels, Buster Spirits is a lot like it’s predecessor. The game is level based, containing 20 separate stages spread across 4 different worlds, and having 4 huge boss battles. There are also tons of enemies with randomized power-up drops, but in Buster Spirits, the enemies also drop coins, which you’ll need to collect to build up your score. 
Now, unlike Buster Red, Buster Spirits contains a new scoring mechanic which definitely adds to the hardcore feeling of the game. Grazing. Just mentioning the word gets shmup fans charged up. Buster Spirits gives you bonus firepower for grazing bullets and enemies, which can result in clearing out screens after screens full of enemies in a flash, and adds a ton to the difficulty, as well as the fun, factors. 
Unfortunately, it’s not all great. There is no main menu, and no options for the game. Considering the controls are more like a Minter game (think Gridrunner) and there’s no option for 1:1 relative touch controls, it’s a pain to get into. Constantly re-adjusting your finger, and under/overcompensating for the extra space your ship will move while trying to dodge huge amounts of bullets of enemies gets very frustrating, very fast. This is kind of a shock, because Buster Red’s controls are fantastic 1:1 relative touch, so it’s strange that this was left out of the sequel. 
Also, there’s only one Mode in the game, whereas Buster Red has a Boss Rush Mode, and an Elite Mode. This doesn’t really take away from the replay value, because there’s always a high replay value when it comes to shmups, and GameCenter leaderboards, but it does take away from the feeling of a complete game. Almost every shmup in the AppStore either has Arcade and iPhone Modes, Boss Rush Modes, Practice Modes, or more, and not having this included in Buster Spirits does make it seem kind of incomplete. 
There’s also no difficulty settings, and only one ship to choose from, which, when it comes to shoot-em-ups, is a very big deal. Considering almost all of these things were included in Buster Red, I can’t help but wonder why they were left out of it’s sequel. But priced at $1.99, and being Universal, if you’re a shmup fanatic, it’s hard to pass up another Buster title. Unfortunately, you might not be too pleased with the product. Hopefully Iskandar Inc. adds to the game in future updates, but as it is now, it’s a hard recommendation, even with some great Buster titles under their belt. 

Zombie Bunnies – 0.99 (Lavafish Studios/Coding Design)

Squirmee and the Puzzling Tree was one of my favorite puzzle games from last year. Lavafish Studios did a fantastic job with the mechanics, graphics, gameplay, and bringing a totally new and original title to the iOS. Not only did they bring a fantastic game to the iDevice, but also sent out update after update making the game better each and every time, and doing this while sales suffered. Well now Lavafish has just released their second iOS title, Zombie Bunnies, and as was with Squirmee, this one is completely original, and extremely polished, with loads of fun gameplay.
Gameplay: 5/5
In Zombie Bunnies you’re given a list of 5 objectives which you must complete all of in order to move on to the next set. These objectives are typical of games set up in this fashion, with Destroy 20 Vehicles, Collect 100 Bunnies, Reach Threat Level 5, Unlock Franky Bunny, and so on. You’ll need to blast away, hitting people, cars, buildings, birds, trees, and more, all of which add to your threat bar. Once you fill up this bar, you’ll progress to the next threat level. As you’re doing this, your health will be slowly depleting, and you’ll need to collect the energy , as well as ammo (bunny) pickups that are given and scattered randomly throughout the game. As you keep progressing, you’ll be able to unlock more bunnies, which also gives you more gun types. The second bunny you’ll get will give you a weapon that shoots zombie rabbits that comp off people’s heads. The third bunny drops bombs, and the last bunny shoots big meteors that can take out buildings and vehicles very easily. You’ll learn fairly quickly that in the later levels, switching between these types of guns will be necessary to climb up the leaderboards, complete achievements, and get through all 99 of the Threat Levels. Also, as you reach Threat Levels (every 5), you are able to start from that point in future games, which means you can be thrown right into the action, jumping ahead of all the boring easy levels as your skill increases.
Controls: 5/5
The controls work very well within the game, with the left half of the screen for movement, and buttons on the right side for switching your gun, and firing the projectiles. For movement, all you need to do is either drag your finger slightly, and then keep holding down, or roll your finger around. It might sound like it wouldn’t work well, but here, it works great. Actually, after playing for about 10 minutes, I couldn’t imagine there being a virtual joystick for movement, as it would cover lots of the action on the bottom left side.
Graphics: 4/5
The environment which you’ll be playing in does not change much. There’s trees, loads of buildings, and even more people. But the graphic style of the game is great, and the animations are fantastic, especially for when people’s heads are eaten, and they fall to the ground. The character models for the bunnies you’re able to control are all great, and as you move on in the game, more and more enemies are added to the mayhem, each having very distinct outfits and looks, making them easy to tell apart.
Overall: 9.5/10
Lavafish Studios has done a fantastic job making a casual arcade game that gets progressively harder, building up to a difficulty that will keep even the most hardcore action fans challenged. With GameCenter leaderboards for highest score, total number of people killed, and furthest distance, along with 32 achievements, and only being $0.99, it’s a great buy that will offer up hours of entertainment, and depending on whether or not you’re a high-score chaser, Zombie Bunnies might just end up staying on your device for months.

Ice Wings: Skies of Steel (MF3D)

There is no shortage of endless games on the App Store, and there is only one reason for this. THEY ARE FUN.  These days there are so many games appearing on the App Store that it is easy for hidden gems to drift by without a sound.  A new gem that should not be passed up is Ice Wings: Skies of Steel by MassiveFun3D. This newest addition to the App Store brings great visuals, an epic soundtrack, and frantic flying action together in an awesome endless arcade shooter.
The visual appeal of Ice Wings is definitely what caught my eye first. Cool and clean is one way to describe it. The color-scheme and building style really creates the feeling of being in a war-torn environment. Now, this is not to say that the graphics are perfect though.  The textures are a bit rough at the edges, and when you get up to speed some of the enemies look almost 2D. To go along with the visuals, the soundtrack of the game is nothing short of epic. You know the sort of music that you hear in the Call of Duty series that always puts you in the mood for shooting stuff? The best way to describe the music in the game is a mix between CoD and Top-Gun style. This really goes to create an awesome experience while you are playing, and for that I think the composer (Dave Dexter) deserves a big applause.
Moving on to the controls, Ice Wings utilizes a simplistic control scheme. A fixed shoot button (you can place this on the right or left side), finger dragging to move the plane left or right, and an upward swipe to dodge vertically.  My first few minutes playing the game were very frustrating as it took maybe 7 or 8 tries just to get past the first obstacle! Over at the TouchArcade forums, others have had the same trouble, but this is just a matter of getting used to the timing. Your plane is constantly speeding up, so in the beginning you have to wait until you are right up against the obstacle before dodging, whereas later on you have to dodge much earlier. In terms of obstacles, there is a variety ranging from train overpasses, to helicopters and cranes, and some more crazy ones like giant spinning blades and gates that slam shut with a tiny hole to pass through.  When you get going really fast, it becomes really difficult to see the obstacles coming, so you pretty much have to depend on luck. But hey, that’s the name of endless games isn’t it.

There are incentives to keep flying and crashing as well.  When you shoot down enemies you gain stars. These stars act as in-game credits to unlock new planes. Currently there are 4 planes total. The planes each have different stats in areas like acceleration, weight, and damage. This is what will keep you playing the game, and the developers will be bringing more planes in the future.
Speaking of future updates, the first update to the game is currently in the works. This will bring updated controls and hopefully some more customization. Some features that we hope to see in later updates are more obstacles (ie. some that you need to fly underneath), more maps, of course more planes.
This game is everything you could ask for from an endless game. It is nearly non-stop action, it has great visual appeal, it has an epic soundtrack, and it is from an indie developer. All of these are perfect reasons for you to get this game. It is highly recommended from me, and let’s hope that we will see updates galore in the future. Check out the launch trailer after the score:

Sleepy Jack – 0.99 [Launch Sale Price] (Silvertree Media)

Silvertree Media’s first iOS release, Cordy, made quite an impression on gamers with it’s fantastic graphics, animations, music and gameplay. However, those who loved Cordy might end up wondering why Silvertree decided to take their second release, Sleepy Jack, in a more casual direction with the gameplay. Sleepy Jack feels more like a Disney’d-up Tunnel Shoot than anything else, having your character go through stages collecting orbs, shooting enemies and objects trying to block your path, and trying to beat level times. Not to say that Sleepy Jack isn’t worth playing, or that if you’ve got plenty of tunnel shooters, that you’re not missing anything if you skip on it, because it does offer up some very top notch gameplay, but those of you who were hoping for something a little more creative based on your experience with Cordy will most likely be disappointed at first.

Sleepy Jack puts you inside the dreams of Jack, the kid who owns the toy, Cordy. Each night, you’ll control Jack as he flies through 40 levels, split up across 4 different worlds. Each level has a 3 star ranking system, with one star for completion, one for collecting a certain amount of the level’s orbs, and another for beating the level’s par time. There are 3 different control schemes, one having virtual buttons for movement, using a double tap to make Jack do a barrel roll, one where you can hold on the left or right side of the screen for which direction you want Jack to move, and then swiping in the gameplay area to get him to perform a barrel roll, and tilt controls, which also give you two buttons, one on each side for the direction you would like Jack to do a barrel roll in. While you’re going through the stages, you’ll sometimes be able to fire projectiles. This is done automatically when your fingers are on the screen with the two touch screen controls. For the tilt controls, you’ll need to tap on the screen when you want to shoot. All three control options fit the game very well. In fact, I’m having a hard time finding out which control scheme I prefer, they are all put together that well.
As for the graphics and animations, well, they have that same Cordy look and feel to them, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Silvertree has done an outstanding job with the graphics in Sleepy Jack, giving the whole game a real dreamy look. Each of the 4 different worlds looks very different. In the first world, it looks more like you’re flying through the sky, and space, with clouds, asteroids, and stars all around you, while in the second world, it looks like you’re flying through a huge hole in the ground with dirt everywhere, along with shrubs, bushes, cactus, and huge rocks, and some levels have you flying high above the desert, looking down on everything. There is a lot of detail in the graphics, especially considering it’s a tunnel shooter game, and you’re flying by everything fairly quickly, Silvertree has done an amazing job making everything very polished. In fact, Sleepy Jack is one of the more beautiful games I’ve had the pleasure of playing on my iDevice. In the game’s iTunes description, it says that the graphics are ‘console quality’, though I’m sure most gamers with an XBOX 360 or PS3 would disagree, it would fit very well with other Wii games.
It would be great to see some additional modes added in the future, as tunnel racers are generally known for having more than one mode. Maybe a zen mode, where you didn’t have to worry about any obsticles or enemies, and could just zone out to the amazingly beautiful graphics, or a full on chaos mode where some of the harder enemy battles were thrown at you in waves, and you survived as long as you could with one life. There’s loads of possibilities when it comes to secondary modes in a tunnel racer game. It would also be great to see some unlockable characters, maybe be able to play with Cordy, and other toys that Jack owns. Even though there is a high replay value with the game already, it would just be nice to have some more variety with the gameplay.
Right now, Sleepy Jack is priced at it’s launch sale price, $0.99, which, even during December, is a fantastic price for this high-quality game. Yes, it is a tunnel racer, yes tunnel racers are not known for their deep gameplay, but once you look past the genre it’s in, and actually start playing it, and progressing through the game, you really start to see how much depth there really is. On top of the 3 star rankings for each level, which provide tons of replay value, there are 3 different difficulties (which also makes the game more accessible to younger gamers, as well as hardcore players), and Game Center + OpenFeint integration. Within GameCenter, there are leaderboards for the first 30 levels, as well as an Overall Score board, and OpenFeint has a board for every level, as well as an Overall Score leaderboard, along with both having 44 achievements. Silvertree Media can add their second title, Sleepy Jack, to that list of top notch, high quality, amazingly beautiful games that they started on with Cordy. I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring us in the future.

M.U.S.E. (Ayopa Games/Lab Rats Studio)

M.U.S.E., the long awaited arcade-style, third-person shooter by Lab Rats Studio and Ayopa Games, has finally launched in the App Store. In the wake of several other amazing shooters that have been released this year, like Shadowgun and Modern Combat 3, M.U.S.E. may seem inferior in terms of graphic quality. But in the end, there is so much that sets this game apart from its competitors that you really can’t deny how fun the game is.
You play as Sid Tripp, a freakishly ripped agent for the government agency M.U.S.E. Your goal is to stop Physcosis, a villain who is pushing for world domination. The story of M.U.S.E. is told during the game through comic style cut scenes. These provide a nice break in the action and are very well produced.
The first thing about the game that I need to note is that the visuals in M.U.S.E. are not quite top notch. Although they are highly detailed, some aspect of the graphics is out of place making the game seem a bit flat.  I don’t want to be too critical, and even though some of the textures are a little rough, if you put the flatness aside the visuals actually match well with the arcade nature of the game.  The color scheme creates a mood of destruction and conveys this feeling of a corrupted world. Now, that is just my opinion, but hopefully you will appreciate the artwork that way as well.
In terms of gameplay, M.U.S.E. effectively combines third-person cover-based shooting with intense non-stop arcade blasting.  Kill your enemies with bullets or grenades, and while you are at it unload on a car and watch it burst into flames. One of the coolest features in the game is the arcade-style scoring system. Rack up points and multipliers when you quick kill enemies or when you destroy parts of the environment.  Building on the arcade scoring, a neat feature called “adrenaline mode” boosts the points that you gain through kills and destruction. Basically, when you kill stuff your adrenaline gauge fills up. Fill it up all the way and Sid shoots himself in the leg, unleashing his rage on everything that you point the cross hairs at.  Adrenaline mode puts the game in a sort of slow-mo and enemies are outlined with a thick, flashy red line. This, along with the arcade-style aspect of M.U.S.E., makes the game experience deeper than your average shooter. Also, you can compete with your friends via GameCenter and OpenFeint leaderboards.
The level design is fairly linear, but this meshes perfectly with the non-stop gunning action. This is not a game where you want to lolligag around and sight-see. You want to go into the mission, set your cross hairs, and blast your way through. The linear level design prevents any confusion and makes the game even more of a blast to play.
There is also a deeper side to M.U.S.E. Character upgrades are not often found in iOS shooters, but the Lab Rats went all out.  As you play, you have access to over 80 unique upgrades to Sid and his weapons. Character upgrades range from max health and max speed, to adrenaline time and combo window. Weapon upgrades include damage, fire radius, clip size, and others.  The upgrades are a huge plus for M.U.S.E. and give it an edge over other shooters on the market.
In terms of device compatability, M.U.S.E. runs perfectly well on my iPhone 4, but I have heard that there is some lag on lower devices. For higher end devices like the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, you get to enjoy Air Play mirroring on the big screen. One other neat feature is iCloud integration.
The production of M.U.S.E. has been a crazy adventure for Lab Rats Studio, and they deserve a round of applause for following through with the project and getting it out on the App Store. So you know, just over a year ago, the guys at Lab Rats Studio were students in the game development program at Wake Technical Community College. To Lab Rats, congratulations on the release and I hope you continue to bring innovative titles to iOS. To our readers, definitely give M.U.S.E. a try. This is only episode one, so lets hope future episodes arrive soon.