Feb 21, 2011
I remember one fateful childhood Christmas morning when I opened my new copy of Super R-Type for the SNES. On that day, my love of side scrolling shooters was born, and ever since, I have indulged in games in that genre on every gaming device I’ve owned. That being the case, Overkill should have been one of my favorite Android games; unfortunately, it just didn’t fit the bill.
Let’s start with what Overkill does right. Visually, this game is excellent. The backgrounds are great looking, and the ships and asteroids you encounter have a unique style to them. Even the menus are great looking, and easy to navigate. The sound design does a great job of complimenting the visual style in this game as well. Speaking strictly to Overkill’s presentation, it does everything right.
Unfortunately, Overkill’s gameplay doesn’t do its presentation justice. If you’ve ever played a side scrolling shooter, or “shmup,” you know how this game works – fly your ship from left to right shooting everything that gets in your way while dodging your enemies’ bullets. The problem here is that those things require precision, which just isn’t present in Overkill. There are three basic control schemes available to you in this game; touchscreen, keyboard (if your phone has one), and accelerometer. None of these control schemes offered enough precision to get very far with Overkill. The accelerometer would often put me further to the right than I wanted to be, and when I motioned to the left, the ship would zip all the way over, rather than just going a short distance. Using the keyboard on my Motorola Droid wasn’t much better. The spongy nature of the keys made it difficult to time my movements correctly. The best of the three methods was the touchscreen, but that method felt way too floaty, and from time to time, the game seemed to lose track of my finger, leading to either a sudden lurch forward in the ship’s movement, or a complete lack of response to my movements.
The game attempts to offset these control issues by making it easier to fire at enemies. In fact, your ship will shoot at anything in front of it on its own, leaving you to worry about steering, and deciding when to use missiles, shields, and other power ups. While these control mechanics do make it easier to concentrate on steering, they don’t alleviate the fundamental issues with the game’s controls.
If you can get past the control issues, there’s a game here worth playing, but chances are, all but the most dedicated gamers will just find Overkill frustrating rather than fun. With other, more precise shmups available on just about every platform under the sun, I just can’t bring myself to recommend this game.