Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved Review

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved Review

Nov 21, 2014

Despite its name, Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved is neither a shmup, nor is it particularly evolved. It’s still pretty good though. The story and characters put McBane to shame with their corniness. The player becomes a missile commander for allied forces that are fighting against the Terror – as in, an organization that literally calls itself Terror. They employ lunatics and fanatics to their side, lacking but a swastika and the actual Devil as their commander to complete the image of a perfect enemy for the forces of democracy and everything that is good. Anyway, the player has to endure endless waves of enemies as they try to destroy the thingy that the player is trying to protect (what is that that we’re trying to protect, by the way?) by shooting a barrage of missiles onto advancing enemies.

The gameplay of Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved isn’t anything new, but it’s executed in a pleasant way, so the repetition isn’t too tiresome, and the difficulty can be played around for quite a while. The enemies come from the top and the player needs to tap onto them to order a missile hit. The missiles take half a second to drop, so the player has to aim a Tank Invaders 3bit in advance, although that’s not a big factor in the game’s difficulty. Mostly, it’s about reaction time, as the enemies grow in numbers, and their speed starts increasing. Besides the missiles, the player has expendable nukes, a bunch of power-ups that, when picked up, make the missiles stronger of faster for a while, and a special “On fire” mode that’s activated when the player hits a number of targets in succession, without missing once.

The enemies differ quite a lot, and I’d say, they’re the most interesting part of Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved. There are tanks, aircrafts, missile silos and various bosses. The boss encounter is a challenging test of the player’s skills, although, strangely, it isn’t the most likely place to get defeated. When the player’s base health bar is completely erased by enemy shots, the enemies getting through the player’s defenses, or the player hitting the allied vehicles, the game is over, and the player gets money based on how long he lasted and whether he completed any of the three special missions. Then he can spend the money to resupply his nukes or upgrade some part of his armory, before going on the line again.

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved is fun, and it’s the most that matters. Sure, it’s free-to-play, and has its limits, but it’s not punishing the player for not paying, and the ads aren’t shoved in the face – you can actually get bonus gold by watching a 30-second video ad. Regardless, it’s a fun game with cool graphics and corny dialogues for anyone who likes explosions with a bit of tactics on the side.

Planetary Guard: Defender Review

Planetary Guard: Defender Review

Nov 17, 2014

Today, humanity has successfully landed a probe on a comet, after years of rigorous testing on Donald Trump’s massive ego, so it’s fitting that I’d review a game about defending the futuristic space stations, situated on various asteroids and the like. Planetary Guard: Defender pits the player against the hordes of presumably alien ships that are attacking the bases around the universe, with a single hover-tank. The gameplay is similar to top-down arena shooters, only in this case, the “arena” isn’t some patch of grass or dirt, but an orbit around a planetoid that the player has to defend from several waves of enemies. The rest is all the same. Each wave has a certain amount of enemies that need to be killed, before they kill the player and/or the station that he defends. When they die, the enemies drop coins and power-ups. Power-ups give the player better shooting power, and the coins are spent between the missions on upgrades. Each mission also has three objectives, granting a star for completing each one. The more stars the player has, the more advanced levels he can unlock. It’s even possible to skip a couple of levels and go straight for the hardest one, if you’re confident.

The upgrade system in Planetary Guard: Defender features several hulls, weapons, shields, and special items. Each one can be upgraded to gain better characteristics. Naturally, Planetary Guard Defender 3the most powerfull of them require a special resource that can be bought with real-world money. They are also earned after the missions, but in very small amounts. Speaking of which, Planetary Guard: Defender is pleasantly devoid of most of the free-to-play irritations, not counting the fullscreen ads at the end of each level. There’s no energy, so you can play and replay every level for as much as you like. There’s no obvious paywall, at least not in the first couple of hours of gameplay that I’ve seen, and the grinding isn’t getting on the nerves.

Wrapping up, Planetary Guard: Defender is a fun shooter for the fans of rapid old-school sci-fi action, set in a pretty 3D, courtesy of Unity engine. It takes a while to get comfortable with, but it’s worth it, in my opinion.

Sky Force 2014 Review

Sky Force 2014 Review

Jul 24, 2014

Sky Force 2014 is a curious mix of freemium and old school shooter. Does it work?

Sky Force 2014 is a classically styled, old school vertical shooter. The player travels up the screen dodging around and blasting the heck out of a bunch of different enemies. Huge, ships small planes and gigantic bombers fill out the vast armies the player fights on each level. And players will have plenty of time to admire these enemies. The game works on a grading system where the player must repeat levels until they gain a certain percentage of enemies destroyed or so on. This leads to rather a lot of grinding to afford better parts to actually complete these challenges.

Screenshot_2014-06-21-15-17-24Skyforce 2014 lacks powerups and even alternate weapons, which may be a bummer for some players. Part of the fun of shooters is picking up and using different weapons and powerps. Sky Force 2014 however mostly gets by using the same main gun which can be upgraded with stars collected from dead enemies. These stars can be exchanged for upgrades between levels that make the gun fire faster and do more damage, but it never really gets more interesting than its single orange bullets without a lot of invested time. There are a few other weapons in the game, but it is not clear how to unlock them or indeed how different they are.

The lack of weapons and pretty tame gameplay kind of sabotage Sky Force 2014. With the large amount of great looking, full featured shooters on Android it is difficult to find time for one that has so few weapons and also attempts to nickel and dime the player. The game just never seems to hit a groove and the most fun part of the game is the very beginning. The player flies a very powerful ship for a few minutes, before it is destroyed and they return in a very weak fighter, pew pewing small bullets.

Screenshot_2014-06-21-13-42-52Skyforce 2014 looks great. Some sharp, colourful graphics really make the game pop and small details like the way stars sparkle and smoke hangs in the air from destroyed enemies gives the game some class. There is a great variety of enemies and the game as a whole is silky smooth and looks excellent. It nails the vibe of an old school arcade shooter while still looking modern.

The sound is similarly excellent. Skyforce 2014 has some very unique music that sounds just like 8 bit chiptunes, which are very catchy. The sound effects for shooing and explosions work well. There is a fair bit of speech in the game as well to alert the player of game events and to provide a bit of backstory. Great stuff!

Sky Force 2014 has a fair few levels and the game is quite difficult, but it is hard to tell if this is by design, or due to the in app purchase system deliberately weakening the player.

Sky Force 2014 is a tolerable shooter, but its lack of interesting weapons and annoying, grindy freemium system dooms it to take a backseat to many other shooters on the platform.


Mig 2D: Retro Shooter Review

Mig 2D: Retro Shooter Review

Feb 25, 2014

It’s very difficult to describe Mig 2D: Retro Shooter better than it describes itself. It’s a game that is “retro” all the way through. It could have been released on Sega, almost intact, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. It’s actually impressive how retro it looks – but it’s also the game’s biggest problem. This and the complete lack of any sound effects.

The story is told in short dialogues at the start of each level, and I don’t want to describe it, but it’s there, and it gives the game much-needed goals and sense of progress – something that many other shoot-em-ups lack severely. It also features several game modes and mini-games that help maintain interest to the game after a while, when the main campaign is complete. It also looks quite impressive, with pixel-art sprites and effectsMig 2D Retro Shooter 3 drawn with great detail. The problem is that the game is repetitive and doesn’t have anything new whatsoever. You know what it also doesn’t have? Any sound effects whatsoever.

I think its gameplay is obvious from the screenshots. A plane flies up and shoots continuously. The player controls it by dragging a finger around a screen. Enemies come from the top and the player needs to pew-pew them to death, evading their pew-pews. Upgrade gun, use bombs, get bonus lives and health, don’t die. Some levels have a bit different rules. For example, in one level, the player can’t shoot and has to evade debris that are flying at him. The slight changes in rules are a great way to keep Mig 2D: Retro Shooter interesting. But yet, for some reason, it just feels off for me. Maybe the shooting part is unbalanced in some way, maybe it’s the lack of interesting abilities or power-ups, or maybe it’s something else. Quite possibly it’s because there are no sound effects.

Since Mig 2D: Retro Shooter is free-to-play, there’s nothing stopping anyone to check it for themselves. There are ads, and they are a bit annoying, but they don’t break the game or anything. The music also grinds into the ears like sandpaper after ten minutes of gameplay, but when it’s turned off, the game becomes completely mute. And for some reason, it lags on my Asus Memo Pad tablet, but works completely fine on my phone. In general, it’s not excellent, not bad. But there’s no sound effects.

Fleet Of One Review

Fleet Of One Review

Jan 3, 2014

This is a phrase I didn’t expect to say today, but Fleet Of One is a top-down shoot-em-up that’s quite different from the other space shmups. It also looks quite a bit more logical. If the player is supposed to save the galaxy, as is usually the case, then the least you can do is give him a nice ship. Rather than piloting a flying version of a hybrid compact, the player controls a giant flying saucer with more guns than an army parade. But only two of them can be active at the same time. Oops.

Fleet Of One has unusual pacing. Strangely, it reminded me of Guitar Hero of all things. The ship’s steering Fleet of One HD 4can’t be controlled. The player only controls defenses: turrets and energy shields. There are five turrets that shoot when the player holds his finger on them. When the player drags a finger down the turret, it becomes shielded for a second. This shield can protect from energy beams, but it won’t protect from small suicidal ships that are eager to crash into the ship. The enemies come from different sides, but they only attack the turrets, so if the player is careful, it’s possible to destroy every enemy and block every attack before it reaches the ship. Even if it reaches, though, it’s far from the end of the level, as the ship has a health bar on top of the screen. It has several levels and slowly fills up when the player picks up the small power-ups, dropped by the enemies. Unusual thing here is that the ship’s health bar is also its firepower. The more levels it has, the stronger the ship’s attacks are, with the maximum level granting penetrating shots. But wait, there’s more! The power-ups can be destroyed by the player’s weapons! So, if the player wants to achieve larger firepower, restore health, or simply get a big score, he should avoid firing from a turret if there’s a power-up incoming. By the way, the turrets cannot shoot while they are protected by the shield. These unusual, limiting rules mean that the player needs to make lots of small decisions, aside from trying to shoot the elusive enemies. Thus, Fleet Of One manages to be rather attention-demanding, unlike the twitch-shoot gameplay of the common shmups.

The game has lots of levels, although they only differ by the challenging enemies that try to shoot down the craft, as well as several difficulty levels for the more skillful players. There are no unlockable goodies, or player level progression, which is a shame. Nevertheless, although Fleet Of One generally lacks content variety, it’s a great, challenging and unusual action that was a lot of fun for me to play.

Sine Mora Hands-On: Video of the Day

Sine Mora Hands-On: Video of the Day

Oct 31, 2013

Sine Mora is a weird and mystifying game. There’s a plot line about vengeance and war, but with anthropomorphic creatures? And time travel is involved? Well, it’s about as difficult to comprehend as every other shoot ’em up out there. After a review on the site mentioned how beautiful the game was, I figured it would be a good time to show this one off as the video of the day.

And boy, this one is a looker. Of course, don’t get caught staring for too long: this is a bullet hell shmup, where navigating your ship through endless streams of bullets is the objective. It’s not easy. At all. The ability to slow time down helps a lot. That the game is now being controlled with a virtual stick doesn’t make things any easier though, and unfortunately there’s no obvious gamepad support, especially not HID gamepads. The game is on Ouya as well for those interested.

The game is rather visually intense, so it’s worth playing this on a powerful device if possible. Hardware at about the 2012 Nexus 7’s level was certainly playable, but it could have been a lot better. Still, the game is impressive-looking, and puts up a mighty challenge, though a forgiving one due to its time-based system, where death only happens when the clock hits zero.

Download the game from Google Play and watch the video below.

Super Crossfire Review

Super Crossfire Review

Oct 14, 2013

Earlier this year, Radiangames published all of its mobile games on Google Play. Well, all except one: Super Crossfire. iOS gamers were well aware of it from its Chillingo-published version in 2011. Even Blackberry Playbook owners knew about it because Unity Games published a version on there. Now in 2013, Android owners finally get to play this flip-floppy space shooter, and it has been well worth the wait because it is a brilliant game.

At its heart, Super Crossfire is essentially Galaxian but with the ability to flip to the other side of the playing field. This allows players to avoid shots that come in, of course, but it also becomes necessary to take on the complex enemy formations that are encountered. Some enemies can only be hit from one side. Some enemies with giant lasers are best faced from the back. Some enemies provide shielding to nearby enemies and must be taken out. Thankfully, players also have a powerful super attack that recharges by collecting gems, to help wipe out the trickier formations.

Honestly, the game is more fun than the average space shooter because of the simple complexity. Players learn how to survive in quick order, and it just becomes an instinctive thing. Basically, just avoid the bullets and lasers, kill the UFOs that go past to get their lucrative powerups, and just don’t screw up.

SuperCrossfire-4

The upgrade system plays a helping hand as well. Players get additional points every 5 to 10 levels that go into one of eight stats from additional health to more firepower. The best part is that the upgrades can all be reconfigured as needed. Didn’t like that shot spread upgrade and want to bank the points toward an additional armor point? Do it! It’s kind of a Radiangames tradition, and it’s a great fit here.

The Android port is great: the game is faithfully intact, and its graphics, while largely flat, have the same great effects. It’s a stylish game. The touchscreen controls are effective enough, but want to really have some fun? Get a gamepad. Super Crossfire supports HID gamepads and is a ton of fun with it. I feel better at it, but it also might have just been a good run I got on where I beat the game in one sitting with a gamepad. Still, this is one where it’s fun to sit back and enjoy the game with actual controls where possible.

As well, there’s Google+ support for leaderboards, achievements, and cloud saves, featuring a friendly warning dialogue when switching devices to load from the cloud.

The intense retro-style shoot ’em up action that encapsulates Super Crossfire makes it one of my favorite mobile games of all time. Two years later, with this perfect Android version, it only reiterates how great this game is, with its hundreds of levels, upgrades to unlock, multiple difficulty levels, and more. There’s a lot to do and a lot of fun to be had. Buy this game.

The Rockets Review

The Rockets Review

Sep 16, 2013

Well, butter my biscuits, if it’s not another space shoot-em-up that’s one step away from being a bullet hell, and two steps away from containing actual understandable imagery. The amount of these simplistic shooters is damn near overwhelming, and I’m beginning of running out of synonymous words for “simple”. Anyway, The Rockets is a very small shmup, and it’s quite surprising that it gets as addicting as it does.
The Rockets 3

The Rockets is divided into three parts that are gradually unlocked. These parts differ by the theme, difficulty, and the player’s ships. This means that whatever upgrades are purchased for a ship, are going to stay with it, while the next one is unlocked completely naked. Each level consists of a single boss, whose life bar is shown at the top, and who should be destroyed as quickly as possible. Every boss is different in its appearance and attacks. They also change their attacks slightly, when they are at 2/3 and 1/3 of their health. The ship can be equipped with different upgrades in-between the levels. The great thing about the upgrade system is that the upgrades can be reset at any time, with the cash being completely restored, so it can be spent in some different way. Speaking of which, I think the best way to acquire it is to replay the first couple of levels over and over for several times.

The Rockets is a very simple game, but the challenge and desire to unlock the upgrades and show those random aggressive creatures where it’s at, are more than enough to push to the next levels. Of course, The Rockets somewhat lack gameplay variety. The ships are different, but the game itself isn’t quite. The primitive graphics aren’t that much of a problem, but the game is primitive to the core, meaning that the engagement suffers somewhat from the almost complete absence of sounds and actual graphics. In any case, The Rockets is a nice, challenging shoot-em-up with unusual enemies and traditional gameplay. It’s so simple, it’s only suitable for the fans of bullet hell shumps, but I don’t think anyone else would be interested in it anyway. Still, it’s a stylish game, and there are definitely worse shmups out there. Personally, I enjoyed it.

AstroWings Gold Flower Review

AstroWings Gold Flower Review

Sep 9, 2013

I often pity the countless goons that we destroy in shoot-em-ups. I mean, people get all spiky when some protagonist in a first-person shooter starts showing unacceptable behavior and getting trigger-happy all too often. But no Tony Vercetti in the heat of an all-you-can-hit pedestrial monster-truck rampage can compare to the protagonists of space shoot-em-ups. They kill billions! The tiny-looking death machines are razing interstellar populations to dust without even as much as a word of justification – simply because this has to be done for the higher order. So, if anyone’s in the mood for some cosmic genocide, here’s a new toy – AstroWings Gold Flower. You murderous bastards.

AstroWings GF 3AstroWings Gold Flower is halfway between being a standard shoot-em-up and a bullet hell. Each level consists of several bigger ships, supported by endless supply of small drones, which lead to the main boss. They fire an incredible amount of projectiles, which get somewhat difficult to dodge. But not quite as impossible as it usually is, in the bullet hell games. The ship also has a health system, so one hit isn’t the end of a level. On the other hand, the levels are significantly longer – and beating the boss is a lot more difficult than passing the rest of the level. The game has all the standard upgrades and coins that should be collected. There are powerful rockets, and shields, and additional lives that can be purchased – although the prices are quite powerful as well. The tough situation with resources is quite an issue in the game, but otherwise the difficulty is bearable. AstroWings Gold Flower also have a slightly unusual superpower – the standard weapon fires in bursts, and activating the power simply makes it fire full-auto for several seconds.

AstroWings Gold Flower has fine graphics quality, and quite a repetitive soundtrack. Although it’s not much different from other shoot-em-ups, there are lots of levels to beat, and that requires lots of skills. There are also many things to unlock, and although AstroWings Gold Flower gets a little stale after a while, just like it always does in the shmups, it’s still interesting enough.

Teslapunk Review

Teslapunk Review

Aug 19, 2013

Teslapunk is space shoot-em-up with a futuristic look and easy-to-understand gameplay.

It comes in two gameplay flavors: arcade and survival. In survival, it’s literally a matter of staying alive as long as possible. Columns of obstacles block progress, and it takes a lot of darting in and out to stay as alive as long as possible. Arcade is aimed at maximizing multiplier potential.

The Survival mode gives a great demo of the gameplay, and like the arcade format, appears in top-bottom 2D form, withtesla1 the protagonist spaceship flying from top to bottom of the screen to the top. It perpetually fires ammunition, and can be maneuvered by tapping and holding (dragging) the virtual image. Flying in the opposite direction towards this craft are several obstacles of varying lethality. The very first danger is the continual wall of enemy craft flying in formation. These crafts usually filled the screen flying 5-deep, so the only means of egress is to shoot a path through them, as colliding with them ends the run. These spacecrafts also vary in defensive capabilities, so some are easier to destroy than others; this consideration is especially important in the earlier parts of the game, when powerful weapons may not be yet available to make a path through particularly strong enemy ships before colliding with them and being destroyed.

Additionally, there is a particular projectile that s particularly deadly; it announces its imminent presence with shooting white beam. At this point, the best recourse is to get out of the way, which, because of the columned waves, is much easier said than done. There are also some evil “boss” ships, and these generally can’t be destroyed on the first run. They also spit out volleys of weaponry that spread and take some major deftness of finger to avoid. Destroyed ships yield gold coins, and there are several in-game power-ups.

The in-app store is quite affordable using accumulated coins; attributes can be improved. real cash can be spent as wellI liked the networking tie-in as well.

The art is fun to look at, effective at conveying the action and pleasantly simple in design. The animations were smooth and worked well on most of the devices I tested it on. It’a an addictive time waster, and the two modes are cherries on the top.

Inferno+ Review

Inferno+ Review

Jul 29, 2013

To be fair, I never was a big fan of shoot-em-ups. I’ve enjoyed some of them, sure, but the recently popular neon kind with minimalistic design that would be more fit for a rave party, rather than in a video-game, is just too abstract for my tastes. So, it was a complete surprise for me to absolutely like Inferno+, and there is something almost unexplainable, that sets it apart from the other shoot-em-ups. I suppose one could call it “complexity”.

Inferno+ looks and plays just like all the other neo-classical shoot-em-ups, including the neon lighting and amorphous, primitive forms as its backdrop. The spherical ship that is the protagonist here, is controlled by two virtual sticks, one – for moving the ship around, and the other for shooting the main guns. There are also two buttons for activating shields and launching a bomb. Every little bit of controls can be changed and modified for the most convenience, in what seems to be the most rich control options board for a mobile game.

Inferno+ 1
Although the gameplay is pretty standard for a shmup, it contains several crucially interesting parts. First is the fact that levels are a lot more than empty squares, randomly filled with enemies – each level is different and requires a bit of strategic thinking, so as not to drive the ship into a tricky situation. There are even secret passages and levels that are well hidden. Then, there are upgrades that can be purchased for the points that are gathered around the levels, that improve the ship in various ways, from the shield’s recharge time, to drones that help shoot down the enemies. Although the upgrades don’t change the gameplay in any significant way, they still give some sort of meaning to roaming around the levels and killing the enemies on the way. Another thing I forgot about is that there are two different types of primary weapons and shields available at the start, so there’s a good enough reason to try and replay the game, to test different loadouts.

Wrapping up, Inferno+ sports great gameplay and nice design, and is a damn good game overall, closer to an action role-playing game than to a shoot-em-up. I personally liked it, in spite of my usual relationships with shmups, so I think it may turn out like that for someone else, as well.

Plasma Sky Review

Plasma Sky Review

Mar 18, 2013

Who doesn’t like a little space shoot-’em-up to brighten up their day? Plasma Sky is a basic space shmup that thankfully nails the essentials and is a joy to control.

Players fly around in two-dimensional space, taking on enemies and giant asteroids that fly about in different formations, Galaga-style. The player auto-fires, so they just need to worry about keeping themselves alive, and picking up the powerups for more firepower and additional shields. The game is fast-paced with a variety of enemies on screen, but never gets so jam-packed that it could be considered a “bullet hell” game. It doesn’t have a lot in the way of original hooks to make it stand out, but it nails the basics of the genre to be just satisfying enough.

The thing that really shines through in Plasma Sky is the ease of its controls. The touch-based controls are 1:1, meaning that the ship moves exactly as far as the player’s finger moves. However, they also have an offset, so that the player can reposition their thumb and start moving again, or move their thumb around in a way that doesn’t obscure the screen. As well, there seems to be just enough inertia with the movement that makes the movement feel natural, and not just like dragging an object around a screen, it feels like moving a spaceship around in a game. That natural feeling makes for a tremendous difference in how the game feels. Try the tilt controls too; the developer claims that they are his preferred method.

The game has two modes: Conquest, which boasts 80 levels that can be continued from where the player dies, along with a health bar for maximum player-friendliness. Then there’s Hardcore mode, where there’s no health bar and no continues, it’s all about going far and getting that high score. The lack of online leaderboards on Android is definitely lacking, though – this is seriously where Google needs their Game Center!

While Plasma Sky won’t win any awards for uniqueness, as it does feel awfully familiar while playing it, it’s definitely a game that’s a solid pick-up-and-play experience, and developers of other space shmups need to take heed of its excellent controls.