Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous Review

Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous Review

Mar 12, 2014

Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous is the long-overdue launch on Android of One Man Left’s tilt-based arena survival series.

Yes, one might say, “aren’t tilt controls the hottest control scheme of 2009?” Sure, but Tilt to Live has some of the best around: they’re precise while thriving on the chaos of actually tilting a device around. With plenty of options for customizing the tilt sensitivity and how one holds the device, this will make a believer out of the tilt control apostates.

While this is a sequel, there’s no important story to be missed out of by not playing the original: the red dots are still mad at the arrow for being pointy, because perhaps this is all a Flatland allegory and having an infinite number of sides makes them better. So the player must tilt to avoid the red dots, while triggering weapons and powerups that can take out the red dots. There’s the nuke, which is the sole holdover weapon from the original, the dual-ended laser sword (not a lightsaber!), the brimstone ball which can be bounced around into enemies.

Really, even though this is a sequel, this is a complete reimagining of Tilt to Live, which makes it perfect for an Android release now: it’s essentially a new game with the same basic concept but an entirely new implementation. What makes Tilt to Live 2 so great is the franticness of trying to survive among all these enemy waves, and using the powerup orbs to one’s advantage. As well, the game’s combo system, which is based around doing tricks with the powerups, adds a great element. Surviving is one thing, scoring highly is another: learning how to execute the powerup tricks regularly and maintaining high multipliers is key to scoring high on the leaderboards, which support Google Play Games.

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Now, one of the controversial additions to the game are the boss fights. These pop up after a relative while, and essentially force the player to play a brand new tilting game in the middle of Tilt to Live 2 – these boss fights involve hitting targets that pop up in the arena, while enemy structures try to hinder the player. Their suddenness and unpredictability of just what the player must do can throw a wrench in the proceedings because of how different they are. Thankfully, the Old School mode added in an update removes them and puts the scores on a new leaderboard, and is a more satisfying exprience for those that just want to play the game without these new frills. Try both – the boss fights are kind of missed a bit when they’re gone.

The game is built for 16:9 aspect ratios, so some tablets may have letterboxing, and some phones may have scrolling horizontally: while perhaps that would make some of the action small on a device like the Nexus 4 which gets scrolling, I’m not comfortable with not seeing the entire arena at once.

Still, Tilt to Live 2 is fantastic. It is a thrilling arena survival game with plenty of challenge and great controls, and is well worth checking out for Android gamers who have had to go years without tilting and /or living.

Fireball SE Review

Fireball SE Review

Jun 24, 2013

Radiangames continues its assault on Android after earlier releases of puzzle games Slydris and CRUSH with one of the one-man studio’s action-oriented games: Fireball SE. An upgraded port of the Xbox Live Indie Games title Fireball, this is an arena survival game where the goal is to try and outmaneuver waves of enemies who will swarm together and come after the player, because of reasons.

The immediate similarity is Pacifism mode from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, where the game got entirely shifted from a dual-stick shooter to a frantic survival game, where hitting certain targets and managing waves of enemies became the goal. Fireball SE follows in that basic tradition, but varies largely in that the way one dispatches enemies has some strategy to it. Red glowing ‘mines’ are laid all about the arena, and they will explode immediately on contact. However, if coming in proximity with them, they’ll go off on a delayed release. The advantage in doing so? More enemies may be in proximity to a delayed mine if planned properly, as it could be in the middle of a giant group of enemies. . Also, when using a mine to take out fifty-plus enemies simultaneously, a nova mine gets left behind, which has a wider range than the standard mines. Of course, activating a mine right away might help eliminate an immediate threat, or help set off a chain reaction of mines to take out a wide swath of enemies.

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There’s a lot that goes on in Fireball SE with its mechanics, and that’s without even mentioning the ‘meltdown’ ability to slow down time that gets replenished with the glowing bits that enemies drop. There’s any number of variations with which to enjoy Fireball SE: Waves, a level progression mode; Countdown, a collection of time-limited modes; finally, Survival, a collection of endless modes. Each contains different variations on the theme, such as different level shapes, and enemy behaviors. They make perhaps slight differences, but at least they serve as different ways to enjoy the game.

The virtual joystick that powers movement in Fireball SE is not the best, as I’ve died several times due to small adjustments not quite going the way I expected to. Such imperfections are to be expected from virtual joysticks, I suppose, but it does serve as a frustrating element. One suggestion would be gamepad support, of course. The visuals are minimalistic, serving just their purpose, but there’s something about the backgrounds where none of the color choices really ever feels right. More options, or the ability to customize player and enemy colors would help.

While it’s hardly an artistic breakthrough, Fireball SE‘s arena survival gameplay is exceptional. Definitely worth checking out.

Spirit Review

Spirit Review

Jul 5, 2011

Spirit does things quite differently from most of the Geometry Wars-inspired “glowing objects in space” visual aesthetic games, though. In order to defeat enemies, they must be sucked into vortexes. To create them, the player must create them from the trails that emanate from behind them. Small vortexes are easy to create, but large vortexes require quick movement, as well as the skill to dodge any enemies that might get in the way while the vortex is being created. In Pulse mode, the trail rules don’t apply; instead vortexes are created by picking up icons that create a vortex on the spot. These icons oscillate in size, so picking them up when they’re largest is the goal.

The controls work on a 1:1 offset with adjustable sensitivity settings; it can be tricky to get used to the controls at first, but over time, they work really well. The game is quite different from many other games in its genre because of its vortex mechanic. It’s a lot of fun, especially in the Pulse mode, where it becomes about many moments of proper timing while trying to hit the pulsing icons at the right time, and trying to get as many enemies as possible in a vortex for more points, and to generate more multiplier icons. The primary vortex mechanic in Classic and Extreme modes is still quite fun, but there’s something about the simplicity of Pulse mode and its additional depth that makes it the go-to mode. This is a port of an iOS game, and the controls have translated great, though the game does seem to vertically stretch to aspect ratios taller than the original game’s 2:3.

There are no online leaderboards in this version of the game; the iOS version had OpenFeint support, so it’s unclear why this version doesn’t. Also, the app doesn’t resume from the last game played if it is quit, or even if the Home button is hit. This is a problem because on phones with softkeys, it is possible to accidentally quit the game while trying to make a particularly large vortex while engrossed in the game. Fingers can and will obfuscate enemies while on the board; learn to use the offset controls properly.

Spirit is another fun iOS title brought to Android, and while the lack of online leaderboards and the aspect ratio stretching are a shame, they are only minor quibbles on a fine title. Fans of ‘arena survival’ type games will want to check this one out.