No Gravity (Fire TV) Review

No Gravity (Fire TV) Review

Jun 29, 2015

There is no such thing as too many games. There is definitely nothing like too many games for Fire TV.

No Gravity gives us the potential to get what we want.

It looks and sounds like an old-school arcade shooter, and that’s clearly on purpose; it transports one back to the game rooms of way back when, with half-burned out fluorescent bulbs and cheap carpets pockmarked with patches of spilled soda. It is presented in abbreviated rear-top view fashion, such that the player feels perched just off the tail end of the spaceship. The adventure takes place in space, of course, and the 3D renderings of the ship and other objects is pretty vivid. The coloration is fairly appropriate, with deliberate splotches of explosive color and smooth animations.

The gameplay is straight-up space shooter fare. It is set into missions, and the basic idea, as set forth in the hands-on tutorial, it take care of business and move on. Taking care of business does entail learning the basics of flying, and one learns how to maneuver and fire weapons, skills needed to get far in the game. Eventually, “real” missions open up, and the real action begins; there’s stuff like protecting space stations from a meteor strike. Using the sighting mechanism and directional controls, the idea is to get to the destructive rocks quickly by obliterating them with the supplied weapons. The gameplay concepts expand on from there with tougher (and eventually more cunning) targets.


The game is a bit plodding at the beginning, but does pick up greatly down the line, with tougher missions and even boss-like experiences. There is a greater emphasis on skill and strategy, and finishing successfully is not as easy as originally inferred.

When it’s all said and done, No Gravity is an interesting game, fun by most standards, and greatly enhanced by the Fire TV compatibility. It really pops on the big screen, and is almost ruined for a post-Fire TV “regular device trial. All in all, it does well it does well, and even manages to surprise a bit down the line.

Sentinel: SciFi Space Shooter Review

Sentinel: SciFi Space Shooter Review

Feb 5, 2015

Space adventurers, take heed: Sentinel: SciFi Space Shooter is here.

The game is a bit more involved than might seem at first glance; there are a host of subtle details that are revealed during the tutorial. The game offers two modes, a quick Arcade version and a more complex Campaign mode. Campaign opens up with the optional tutorial, and it walks the player through the basics of gameplay.

The backstory highlights the gameplay: somewhat desperate space pilot, mining and unfriendly enemies. the view is first-person, and there are two main virtual control buttons that cover weapons to the right. The game runs in landscape, and this allows the player to control movement and sights with the left thumb. There is a bank of menu buttons towards the leftmost top, and there are life/shield gauges at the top.

The basic overriding premise is to shoot or be shot: this boils down to aiming and shooting at the enemy craft, and reducing their life bars down to nothing. Destroyed enemy aircraft generally emit boxes, that can be collected via tap; these boxes usually contain the boosts and such that help with survival.


A big part of successful gameplay has to do with recharging one’s shield, so hitting the blue recharge button is important. Again, this highlights the importance of collecting emitted boosts.

When it really gets going, the game is an interesting visual cacophony of avoidables, collectibles, tapping and firing. Upgraded weapons can be unlocked, and the arcade feel is further helped along with the leveling element.

Arcade Mode is similar, if a bit more, well, arcade-like.

All in all, it’s a fun game; the artwork is simple, but it works. I like the perspective used and the sighting system. I do think a better birdseye view would help (or an integrated baddies pinpoint map).

In any case, the game lends itself well to quick play or longer sessions, and this versatility is what helps make it so enjoyable.

New Game Son of Light Zooms Onto Google Play

New Game Son of Light Zooms Onto Google Play

Feb 2, 2015

Uncommon Games is going big on Android with Son of Light, an interesting retro-feeling space shooter.

Shoot the enemies and travel at the speed of light!

Son of Light is an arcade video game of the Uncommon Games studios inspired by the great retro type “Shoot Them Up” and the mechanics of games such as “Runner”.
This « Shoot’em up » (shmup or STG) offers you to cross the universe at the speed of light. Your mission is to overcome in a row the 10 levels that will come to you while eradicating sneaky enemies and colossal bosses!
This bullet hell (or danmaku) type of game is easy to pick up for occasional players while allowing a lot of fun for advanced players! Collect crystals and upgrade your ship!

– In one go, face waves of enemies and bosses to save the universe!
РHelp you with explosive bonuses, pi̱atas, rainbows and many more!
– Improve your shields, jet engines, guns, shootguns, missiles, lasers …
– Set up your weapons according to your objectives.
– Complete many secondary missions to unlock new upgrades!
– Accumulate speed bonuses to reach the speed of light!
– Collect crystals to upgrade your equipment.
– Accessible for both beginners and fierce gamers of hardcore shooting games.
– Survival mode

Activate the speed of light!

Additionally, the developer is promising “a special gift” to folks who download and play the game prior to February 9th, 2015.

Son of Light is available for free (with in-app purchases) on the Play Store.

[Source: Uncommon Games Blogpost]

Laser Flee – Retro Spaceship Review

Laser Flee – Retro Spaceship Review

May 12, 2014

Tis the season to go retro… and Laser Flee – Retro Spaceship definitely feels invested in the spirit.

It’s a straightforward affair with several elements that look to reward quick thinking and visual acuity. The graphics are rendered in 2D form, with the craft having to move from left to right to finish the level. The artwork is purposefully simple with non-subtle retro leanings. The entire graphical look comes together just as one would expect in an old school shooter; the animations convey the action, and the game needs few tutorials to understand. The controls are equally as simple: a joystick and a shooting button nestled at the bottom corners of the screen.

The gameplay is mostly defined by the obstacles that make up a major par of the game. as already mentioned, the space1ship starts off from the left of the screen; generally, there are block-like structures that block egress from the left part of the screen to the right, and using the gun through the not-permanent block usually forges a path. Secondarily, to get across the colored gate at the other side, it is necessary to collect a key by contact.

To compound matters, there is a red laser beam that extends from the top to bottom of the playing area that is closing in on the protagonist ship, so the player does not have all day to dilly-dally around; as the game goes on, speed of action definitely becomes a factor, and the placement of the key to the exit gate can cause all sorts of havoc. Another factor is that the ammo is limited; thus, looking for power-ups is crucial. Soon, things like moving blades become present.

All in all, this is another game that proves that fun gaming can be had with a simple, retro skin.

Beyond Space Review

Beyond Space Review

Apr 3, 2014

Space cowboys take heed: Beyond Space is here.

The gameplay is quite engaging. The tutorial is a mission in and of itself, replete with instruction and back and forth dialogue. It shows the basics of flying, dogfighting and more. Controlling the space fighter is a matter of using one of the options provided: tilt or virtual joystick. There is a frontal radar system, and spot buttons for shooting and afterburnrs to the right of the screen. There is also gesture-based controls for evasive and tactical maneuvering like rolling and U-turns, and vitality meters at the top left.

The tutorial goes on to show how to bring all these parts together, and I found it to be a pretty fun affair. Finishing the tutorial by successfully completing the tasks given leads the main missions.

A lot of the missions involve making it to waypoints, but of course there are enemy distractions. The radar is all inclusive, showing green dots for friendlies and red for bogeys. The dogfights involve running and gunning while bey1dodging enemy fire. The alert system is pretty slick, with a color alert ominously showing up that signifies there is a missile coming in. This is where the speed boosts, barrel rolls and spins become especially useful. In the end, it’s a war of attrition, and the better shooting pilot wins. The Hangar serves at the game shop, with several aircraft, weapons, defenses and boosts that can be unlocked and used via progress.

The artwork is well done, with dark colors and 3D visualizations that do a good job of conveying the the vast reaches of space, with floating debris, swooping spacecraft and explosive collisions.

I like that the game comes with three types of difficulty, and I am obviously a fan of the tutorial. The cutscene conversations are cheeky, if a teeny bit cheesy, but the game is fun and engaging overall.

Beyond Space is available on the Play Store for $2.99, and the one-time purchase model increases is attraction.

Solar Swarm Review

Solar Swarm Review

Mar 10, 2014

Yes, Solar Swarm is a tower defense game… but it’s a tower defense game with more than a little bit of attitude, mean-mugging its way to gameplaying relevance.

It’s comfortable in its dual skin, as it moonlights comfortably as a space shooter without skipping a beat. In this one, the background graphics are not overly eye-popping, but to be fair, they probably don’t have to be; the visuals are simple in representation, and do the job of conveying the tale of a structure under attack. The animations are smooth, and do their part to move and prove the action. The overall design depends on a soft darkness, with enemy craft and power-ups clearly denoted.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a game delve faster into the action. I tend to prefer tutorials, but I kinda dig how this game grabs the player and chucks the player unceremoniously in the deep end of the pool. The first swarm comes sol1with a quickness, and it is fairly easy to discern how to control the defense mechanism, which is a rotating gun set in the middle of the playing area. Narrowing in on the central unit from offscreen are creepy floating objects reminiscent of the sentinels in the Matrix movies. The general idea is to prevent these troublemakers from reaching the center unit by firing on the incoming enemy by tapping on them. The first few swarms are somewhat easy, but then it gets quicker, and soon, it is an all-out tapping frenzy.

To help defend the onslaught, there are some arcade type power-ups that can be initiated via gestures and replenished: shielding, bombs and barriers. For folks wishing to get a better selection, in-app purchasing is available.

It’s a surprisingly fun game that cleverly offsets monotony with simple, fast=paced, competitive sequences. It’s free to play, so take a deep breath first.

Trust me on this.

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.

Beat Hazard Ultra Review

Beat Hazard Ultra Review

Feb 5, 2013

Beat Hazard Ultra lets the music control the action.

The gameplay was fairly fierce, and I found it to be a cool space shooter in and of itself. The action was unrelenting, with enemy spacecraft of different destructive and defensive capabilities coming at me singly and in waves from different angles on the screen. I really liked the ease of handling at the lower levels, in that it allowed me to enjoy the game and learn how to be successful at the same time. The wavy nature of flight and the altering aggressiveness of the enemy made for interesting sequences. Arcade staples like power-ups, multipliers, game cash collection leveling were all present.

When the games hints at an explosion of color, it is not exaggerating; Beat Hazard Ultra packs in some serious strobe-y power which especially popped against the dark background.
The game made music a major part of its infrastructure, by appealing to my inner Dr Dre. I could source the soundtrack from music on my device, or even streamed music. I found that to be even more fantastic in practice than I imagined before playing. With this game, being intertwined in the fabric of the game allowed for an almost innate connection that made it more enjoyable. And yes, the game literally moved to the beat, making song selection a valid part of difficulty.

The game had plenty of options. For example, the control-set had options, as I could use a singe stick to dance around. Still, I thought the controls did take some getting used to at the more complex configurations.

Beat Hazard Ultra was an enjoyable romp that any music lover would be almost insane to not love. If blasting aliens out of the sky was not enough fun, doing it to overlay of Brick House definitely will be.


Mars Defender: Space RPG Review

Mars Defender: Space RPG Review

Oct 28, 2011

Mars needs help! Well, not the planet itself, but the people who are living on it in the future, some 119 years from now. Humanity is branching out, occupying new places to live in the solar system. As you can imagine, however, not everything is peaceful and easy. As tensions rise and attacks escalate, you’ll find yourself in the midst of battle, going further into space to help keep the peace. It’s a difficult job, but it all starts with blasting space rocks.

In the beginning, you’re just a fresh recruit, learning the ropes and defending Mars from the small handful of incoming asteroids. But just because the first few levels are easy doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. The game quickly increases in scope, offering you more difficult challenges, such as escorting freighter ships and fighting off enemy attackers. Even the simple task of clearing space debris becomes a challenge.

Between levels, you’re given a choice to pilot new ships, fight with better weapons and so forth. You’re even treated to the story as it unfolds, learning more about the conflict that’s going on and the role you play in it as fascinating events take place. However, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is simply getting around without smacking into things.

You pilot your ship by sliding the control stick in the direction you want to go. It’s fairly easy. Want to go left, for example? Just move the stick left. The ship automatically rotates so that the thruster is pointing away from the direction you want to go. Once you’ve got that down, your fate is in the hands of Isaac Newton’s first law of motion. You know… “An object in motion tends to stay in motion,” and all that jazz. In other words, you’ll just keep on going until you either rotate your thruster in the opposite direction or you crash into something. Obviously, you’ll prefer to take the former action if you hope to do well in this game.

Of course, being in constant motion has other challenges. For one, the ship’s weapons only fire in the direction your ship is facing. Since you also fire thrusters when you shift the stick around, this makes it much harder to keep aim without changing your direction, or making tight maneuvers while bearing down on an enemy. The option to fire thrusters independently would have made a nice addition to the options menu, even if it meant adding an extra button to the user interface.

Mars Defender: Space RPG doesn’t really seem like much of an RPG, in the traditional sense. It takes on a very linear approach in favor of telling a story and limits you in terms of ship customization and character interaction. It’s just a series of levels with some choices as to which ship you prefer to use on each mission. It’s also lacking in replay value. Without any kind of arcade mode or leader boards, you’re just playing the game to get to the end. It’s a well done game, but very limited.

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.

A Space Shooter For Free Review

A Space Shooter For Free Review

Sep 23, 2011

From the strange and unusual intro movie, I get the impression that Commander P. Jefferson is kind of a jerk. I also get the impression that that’s exactly the impression I’m supposed to get. And is Commander supposed to be his rank or his first name? Ambiguous personality and naming quirks aside, one thing we can be sure of is that Commander P. Jefferson hates aliens, but he loves shooting them in the face. And cursing. He’s really into cursing.

With a name like A Space Shooter For Free, it would be perfectly acceptable to expect this to be a real-time strategy game with puzzle elements. However, that’s not what it is. Surprisingly, A Space Shooter For Free is a space shooter that is, get this, free. Ah, but the ironic twist is that while the game is free, you’re only getting part of it. The full game is a US$0.99 add-on that you purchase in-game. And to be brutally honest, you’re going to want to purchase it if you hope to eke out more than about an hour or so worth of play time. The full game includes a survival mode, more levels, more bosses, more weapons and, well, more.

Featuring some down-home, old school space shootin’, you can expect quite a challenge ahead of you. Enemies come from every direction and have a variety of attacks. Ships will form lines around you, trapping you in as they bombard you with weapons’ fire. You’ll have to avoid laser traps, dodge kamikazes, and blast asteroids as they swarm and fill your screen. The game features non-linear progression, meaning you can jump into any level you wish, but you should really just stick with the levels you can handle until you can purchase weapon and ship upgrades. I found that, until I had collected enough fragments to spend on upgrades, some levels were just way too hard. Do the words “bullet hell” mean anything to you?

The controls are a little odd. Don’t go looking for a directional pad or a “fire” button because you won’t find them. You control your ship by touching the screen and dragging the ship to where you want it to go, to any point on the screen. The ship fires automatically, but it only fires while you are touching the screen.

While this control scheme seems like a natural fit for a touch-based device and gives your ship a level of agility you couldn’t get from a directional pad, call me old fashioned, but I miss the d-pad. Your mileage may vary.

What I got from A Space Shooter For Free was a fun, visually pleasing arcade shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The jokes can be half-baked at times, becoming increasingly worse the more you hear them, but it means well. Thankfully, the gameplay is there to back it up with hundreds of aliens to shoot, genuinely tough bosses to fight and cool upgrades to purchase.