A Crazy Fighter is the latest bullet-hell shmup to hit the App Store. For the uninitiated, “shmup” means “shoot’em up” and “bullet-hell” refers to a subgenre of shooters wherein much of the gameplay revolves around dodging copious amounts of projectiles. It’s a longstanding, much loved gaming genre absolutely packed with classics. Unfortunately, A Crazy Fighter isn’t likely to become one of them.
Visuals: The game’s palette is comprised of three colors: white, black and green. Sounds lame, but it works. The ship designs are nice, and the minimal use of color makes the enemies and bullets — of which there are many — easy to identify and track on-screen. Overall, the game is very clean and looking and well designed.
Bosses: The bosses, like the rest of the enemies are well designed and, from what I’ve seen, modeled after animals. The first level boss ship resembles a fish, while a later boss resembles a turtle. What’s really cool, though, is that the bosses begin the game joined as a single ship. At the end of each level, the ship descends into the playfield and that level’s boss separates from the main body of the ship. It’s a cool idea, and the ship becomes a familiar character through the course of the game, making the player feel more attached to the combat.
Ship Selection: There are three ships available — two from the outset, and one more after finishing the game the first time. The ships have different designs, look pretty cool, and offer different firing patterns, which helps to mix up play.
Collision Detection: In a bullet-hell shooter, collision detection makes or breaks the game. In the case of A Crazy Fighter, it breaks it. Being able to weave between bullets in death-defying maneuvers is what these games are all about. More often than not, in A Crazy Figther, you get hit, even when there appears to be plenty of room for that face-melting dodge. There is a big difference between difficult and unfair, and this game is unfair. You should be able to dodge these bullets, but they hit you anyway.
Controls: A Crazy Fighter offers two control options, Tilt and Swipe. Using tilt, it’s nearly impossible to make the carefully maneuvers necessary to avoid being hit, made even more difficult by the crummy collision detection. Using swipe, the ship attempts to maintain position just above your touch. But ship movement is sluggish, and it spends more time trying to catch up to your finger than follow it. That and your finger often gets in the way, obscuring bullets and ships you should be avoiding. What this game really needs is the type of touch-anywhere control seen in Space Invaders Evolution.
At the time of this writing, the game has a four-star rating on the App Store, but I have to disagree with the masses. A Crazy Fighter might have been a good shmup, but in the end the collision detection and the controls — the two most important aspects of any bullet-hell shooter — work against you. They’re broken, and the game ends up more frustrating than fun as a result. Much as I love these sorts of games, in the case of A Crazy Fighter I have to recommend a pass.
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Matt to the reviews team! This is Matt’s first post on the site and we couldn’t be happier to have him join the team. You can also find Matt posting on the forums under the name mcamp.