Star Champion Review

Star Champion Review

Apr 30, 2014

Star Champion is old school. 2D, pixel art, insert coin, AWESOME old school.

The game wears the retro tag well. Looks-wise, it uses the simplest of colors and animations on a black background to convey the desired persona of an old-school arcade classic. The game uses up the entire screen, and the blots of color are differentiated to show power-ups and enemy craft.

Actual gameplay boils down to a war of attrition. Using a choice of craft with different attributes (single shooters, double shooters, side shooters, rapid fire, etc.), there is a spread virtual dual stick control method that manages the flight of the spacecraft and shooting at enemy ships; there is a small direction joystick to the left and a shooting button to the right. The enemy ships appear randomly with a simple warning, and then commencestar1 to fire on our protagonist ship. The basic concept is to avoid enemy fire and destroy as many ships as possible, to make it easy to monitor the health of the ship, there is a percentage health gauge at the bottom.

To add to the fun factor, there are few elements that come to bear. One is the transitive nature of the barriers of the playing area; they work like the portals in Pac-man. When our craft goes “out” the left side of the playing area, it seamlessly reappears on the right; similarly, if it goes through the top, the spacecraft pops out a the bottom, and vice versa. This creates strategic opportunities to flip on attacking ships. Another elements are the power-ups, which an arcade game is useless without. There’s stuff like limited helpers like better weaponry to take ships down with. Staying alive and destroying the enemy yields points.

I am not a fan of the controls, even though there is a little bit of choice available. I think the joystick could be a bit more intuitive. A better reward system would probably work too.

Whines aside, it is a pleasant game that is hard not to enjoy, even if one didn’t grow up in the arcade rooms of the 80s.

Sector Strike Review

Sector Strike Review

Dec 11, 2012

Sector Strike is a space shooter that touches the future, with weapons and enemies to match. This delightful slide scroller comes in from Clapfoot, which means the bar is high; Clapfoot tends to push out visually appealing titles, so I was a little eager going in.

The graphics were bright and inviting, with a standard metallic track. The developer did a good job with the animations, making the ships look less like cartoons and somewhat like menacing agents of destruction. Controls were basically my index finger.

As for the gameplay, it started hot and heavy, with enemy spacecraft coming right at me from my right. The waves were varied, with straight lines and staggered sets. Of crucial concern were the unexpected diving sorties, which caused havoc, as the enemy craft destroyed me on contact (in addition to the enemy fire). The enemy fire was sneaky; I was caught more than once by a slow projectile while being distracted by the kamikaze drones. My ship did react well to my finger, so quick reflexes helped with success.

Shooting the enemy craft sometimes left power-ups, and these power-ups were to be coveted. Going from basic fire to torpedoes, for instance, was a nice enhancements (the game boasts twenty of such enhancements). I also liked the shields, as they did extend my flying runs. Taking risks had pros and associated disadvantages: the goodies left behind sometimes tempted me to fly forward to retrieve, but that was dangerous, as ships flying in from off-screen were hard to react to. Such on-the-fly decision-making is what makes this game fun. The in-app store accepted coins and/or real cash.

Progress was based on leveling up, mostly accomplished by kills, so avoiding enemy craft was not necessarily always the best strategy.

Socially, the game offered sharing with Facebook, Twitter and G+, which is good, because this is goodness some people might like to share.

Star Splitter 3D Review

Star Splitter 3D Review

Dec 5, 2012

Star Splitter 3D from StepGames Inc. is a space shooter that heats up the screen. The gameplay was slickly designed to combine with the graphics and not conflict with it.

The “3D” tag is not a misnomer either; the developer does a good job with this specific aspect of the game. The ship I piloted looked great, and so did the boulders and spaceships hurtling towards me so intent on my destruction. The space-inspired colors blended together quite well, and with stars and galactic formations making a formidably beautiful backdrop. All in all, but the imagery was so rich that I was sorely tempted to take a second to enjoy the scenery.

Not a good idea. Gameplay-wise, distance and survival defined the game in the name of exploration. Shooting enemy ships was an element of the latter. Targeting proved to be a bit of a challenge at first; since my sights were not direct so to speak, this added some complexity. I had to get the targeting system lined up by moving the craft, while still dodging oncoming obstacles. I also had to avoid enemy fire, so there was a lot going on. I found that the longer I stayed alive, the tougher the sequences became, and the quicker I had to think.

The tasks included things like gathering crystals and destroying boulders, and completing them got me bonus points. Distance and kills added to the tally.

I liked the customization options that the game had; for example, I was able to switch the way I controlled the ship, and from tilt control to my preferred virtual joystick. The game provide upgrades that were obtainable via in-app purchasing, and I could also use real cash if so inclined.

Star Splitter 3D is a futuristic shooter that has the potential to tie folks in and keep ’em stuck and losing track of time.

Alien Defense 101 Review

Alien Defense 101 Review

Sep 29, 2011

The Earth is under attack from hundreds of ships, giant saucers, meteor showers and… exploding jellyfish? Well, yeah, exploding jellyfish! Actually, if you can get past the idea that humanity’s last hope is a solo rookie on his first day of training, then I guess exploding jellyfish won’t be too much of a stretch for you, will it? Nevertheless, there are exploding jellyfish in Alien Defense 101, and they are just one of the many strange aliens you will encounter.

As far as space shooters go, Alien Defense 101 does it’s best to cover all the basics. Waves of aliens descending from the top of the screen in patterns, power-ups, battles with tough foes and plenty of chances to die in a flaming wreck. But then it tries to experiment with some new ideas in how to play a space shooter.

One experimental idea is to swap out the usual control interface layout for a slider control that feels more like a mousepad than a d-pad, giving you absolute movement across the entire range of the field. It actually makes sense to use a slider, seeing as how the game displays in landscape view and widens the field beyond the edges of the screen. With a quick swipe, you can go edge-to-edge and quickly position yourself to face incoming enemies.

Another idea is how the game displays, using a pseudo-3D view, almost curving the screen at the edges and doing some other tricks with the background to give you more of a feeling of depth. It’s hard to describe, but it does give Alien Defense 101 a unique way of displaying the action.

Being a space shooter, the gameplay is your usual fare. As I mentioned earlier, waves of aliens descend to attack you — including exploding jellyfish — and you must do your best to dispatch them with the single life you’re given. The game plays out in stages with a consistent health meter, meaning that you don’t recharge at the beginning of each stage. Annoyingly, however, your weapons revert back to stock, leaving you just a little more helpless each time. Your best hope is to catch a health power-up or you won’t last very long. Speaking of weapons, while the game is free, you can purchase a weapon upgrade pack in-game for US$1.99, giving you additional weapons to help you in your battle.

After a certain number of stages, you unlock the next level so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. You also get a little more of the story, as told to you by Captain Cody who, aggravatingly, shows up via text and a small image right in the middle of the screen. The game doesn’t even stop so that you can read his ramblings, either, it just keeps going while you crash into multiple oncoming ships.

Alien Defense 101 is an odd space shooter, maintaining a good level of fun with some unusual ideas thrown in. However, it’s hindered by terrible music, simplistic graphics that could use a lot of polish and average gameplay.