Alien Invaders Review: A Chromecast Experience

Alien Invaders Review: A Chromecast Experience

Apr 9, 2015

Ah… aliens, shooting and TV. No arcades here, just Alien Invaders.

Off the bat, the game is made for Chromecast, Google’s multipurpose casting dongle that opens up Android to more generalized modes of consumption. To be honest, the game offerings are thin, and that isn’t too hard to understand.

The game is fairly useless without the dongle, as opening the game requests that the user connected to a local Chromecast; after the connection is made, one can get into it by “joining the game” on the big screen. On the device, one will find three spacecraft symbols, which serve as controls.

At first blush, the game looks a lot like the classic arcade game Missile Command, and plays a lot like it too. There are waves of enemy craft at the “top” of the screen, all in direct conflict with the protagonist ship at the forefront. The wave of aliens move side to side, and, less gradually, forward a step, reducing the distance between them and the player’s ship. The player’s ship can be controlled by the aforementioned virtual icons on the screen; the outer ones initiate perpetual movement in the corresponding direction (until arrested by the playing area), while the middle one controls shooting at the enemy craft. Thus, the dual objective is to avoid fire and to destroy the enemy ships.

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To increase the challenge, as soon as one level is cleared, a new, better populated one replaces it. In this way, the gameplay gets tougher, as there are more ships to destroy as well as more gunfire to avoid. Another aspect is the scoring mechanism, which taxes the player for missing the target. Thus, to get the highest score possible, it makes sense to avoid the urge to strafe continually.

It’s a simplistic game, but that is as much a blessing as it is a curse, as it is easy to get into. I like the simple leaderboards as well. Control-wise, it is possible to slide off the controls at times, so I had to glance down every so often, but such is the challenge of using devices that have fewer hardware buttons. I still think the controls can be improved upon greatly.

In the end it is a fun take on a classic style of game, and the Chromecast functionality is a plus. It is so easy to chase high scores, and that helps the game shine.

Total Recoil Review

Total Recoil Review

May 29, 2013

Ah… every now and then, a game comes along and sucks you dead in the jaw. Total Recoil it’s one of those games, and it is chock full of lippy attitude. It’s an arcade shooter published by Thumbstar Games that brings to bear cool features, awesome graphics and raw gameplay.

The 3D environment is gorgeous. From jump, it is hard not to admire the succinct amalgam of motion and animation. From the very first explosion to the smooth rotation of the firing soldier, everything just worked. The environments are fun without being overly silly, and the graphic design reflects the arcade roots of the game. There is little to complain about with regards to the artwork.

Vin Diesel would adore the gameplay, because this action is fast and furious. As soon as the “play” button is tapped,total1 shooting and destruction starts. The dual control system is fairly intuitive, with one button guiding movement, and the other controlling the rotation of the perpetually shooting soldier. The action comes in a few different play modes, including wave, operations and basic challenges. One thing I especially like is the full-fledged tutorial that makes up a part of the game; it gives plenty of pointers with regards to the goals and activities.

At its core, a lot of the progress depends on successful wave defense and the defeat of the big bad bosses. As expected, it starts off fairly easy and gets harder. Destruction releases coinage that can be accrued to garner valuable upgrades. For those frothing at the mouth to go big even faster, in-app purchasing is available, though I didn’t find it to be necessary. Of course, it wouldn’t be an arcade sim without destruction-induced weapon upgrades, streak rewards, war birds, choppers and more.

All in all, it is a fantastic offering that is hard to put down. I enjoyed it immensely.

Undead Soccer

Undead Soccer

May 15, 2013

Soccer and the undead. Now that is a weird pairings. As much as soccer players fake injuries, it probably should not be too unexpected (zing! Hey… I should know)

Undead Soccer from Bulkypix merges The Beautiful Game and zombies in interesting fashion in this wave defense thriller.

The premise was simple. My protagonist’s fortuitous trip to the locker room saved him from becoming a zombie. Playing as him, I had to use soccer balls and related power ups to keep the hordes of zombies at bay.

The gameplay was fairly straightforward; zombies appeared in simulated groups and made their way to me. To survive, I had to use an unending supply of clicked soccer balls to knock them out. There was a delay between flicking a ball and getting a replacement, so accuracy was an important consideration. Occasionally, a power up icon would pop up. To claim it, I needed to “strike” it with the ball just as I would an incoming monster.

The power-ups were varied. Guns, rocket launchers, freezing utilities… even boomerang. They were all exhaustible, undead1and each provided a unique and valuable advantage. I liked that there was a a degree of difficulty attached to getting the goodies even after uncovering them.

As the game progressed, the hordes got faster and craftier. The scenery progressed from the soccer pitch to docks, fairgrounds and other murky parts of the city. There was in-app purchasing, and I thought the game progress was slow without it. It’s a relatively cheap game, so I’ll try not to be too hard on the developer for it.

Graphically, the game had the zany look I’d expect from a zombie saga, with dark edges and coloring meant to elicit a sense of relentless foreboding. There was a simple elegance to the looks that was easy to appreciate. I was not the biggest fan of the animations, and I thought the opening sequences could have been a bit more refined, but all in all, it was far from shoddy.

For a simple game that can be very hard to put down, this is definitely a cool option.

Retro Cosmos Review

Retro Cosmos Review

May 9, 2011

The old school has found a comfortable, well furnished home in the snug confines of your pocket. You need only take a cursory glance at the Android Market to find remakes, re-imaginings and re-inventions of all the games the kids were playing twenty or thirty years ago. It should come as no surprise when I tell you that Retro Cosmos is, to all intents and purposes, a simplified touch screen version of Space Invaders.

Maybe simplified is the wrong term – changed around a bit might be more accurate. Whereas in Taito’s classic arcade game you had scenery to hide behind, you’re afforded no such luxury here. You are, however, able to move forwards and backwards on the screen – gamers in the late seventies could only dream about such a revolution.

The rest of the game plays out in decidedly familiar fashion – waves of enemies swoop down the screen towards you, firing pixel sized bullets, and you have to shoot them before they destroy you. Some of the alien craft carry power ups that they drop when destroyed, which give you extra lives and more powerful weapons.

It would be easy to dismiss Retro Cosmos as another in the swathe of old fashioned blasters that litter app stores around the world, but you’d be doing the game a great disservice. It may not win any awards for originality, but what it does, it does remarkably well. The touch screen controls – you guide the ship with your finger and it fires automatically – work fantastically, and the sense of accomplishment you get after completing a wave is almost palpable.

Retro Cosmos is by no means a perfect game, the collision detection is a little off and sometimes it’s quite bland to look at, but that shouldn’t detract from just how enjoyable it is. It’ll never win any game of the year awards, nor will it win any prizes for style or innovation, but it is a lot of fun and sometimes, that’s all you really want.