Tag Archives: Dual-stick Shooter

Robokill Review: iPad Exclusive Dual-stick Shooter

Robokill – Rescue Titan Prime is an iPad exclusive top-down, dual-stick shooter from developer Wandake Entertainment, and a pleasant surprise in an over-saturated genre.

A station orbiting Mars has been overrun by hostile robot forces, and you’ve been sent in — a lone gunman — to restore order. The game’s narrative is weak, with the origin of the hostiles never adequately explained. All you really need to know, though, is that the robots are bad and need be shot up. Action ensues in 13 missions, featuring more than 450 rooms to be cleared. Each mission consists of a labyrinthine network of rooms which must be cleared, and certain objectives completed to advance. The layout of each mission is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda, and a welcome change of pace from the open arenas prevalent in most dual-stick shooters.

The rooms themselves present various challenges. Some are open spaces for combat, while others force you into precarious battles on narrow catwalks, or force you to work around obstacles to obliterate your foes. Some rooms are so dense with enemies that it becomes absolutely frantic trying to avoid fire while simultaneously avoiding pitfalls or traps.

Robokill offers players a number of options for customizing their mech’s payload, featuring four weapons mounts, four accessory mounts and plenty of options for each. Blasters, shotguns, lasers, grenade launchers, pulse guns and more can be mounted in any combination, and accessories such as riot shields, shield generators, sensors and emergency repair kits can be equipped for support.

Teleportation pads are scattered throughout each mission as well, allowing you to return to previously cleared rooms without having to traverse the ground in between. This makes it easy to bounce around the map to access alternative routes that you may have passed earlier in the mission.

Likes:

Robokill is an easy game to like. The graphics are fantastic, the action is solid, the controls are precise and responsive, and there’s enough content here to keep you busy for quite some time. It’s great fun to try out new weapons arrangements, and you’re constantly upgrading your mech with new weapons found or purchased from the shop in each mission. As you defeat enemies you also gain experience points, increasing the strength of your mech and enabling it to equip yet stronger weaponry. The game is constantly rewarding you for your progress, keeping your mech on a steady growth curve and providing a very satisfactory experience.

In short, Robokill is a top-notch effort and a lot of fun to play.

Dislikes:

Despite being so excellent, however, Robokill is not perfect. There is nothing broken about the game; what’s here is exceptional. Several omissions and many missed opportunities prevent Robokill from realizing its full potential, however.

The game offers many weapons from which to choose, but fails to differentiate the weapons in any way that affects gameplay. The only trade-off between weapons is firepower vs. rate-of-fire. Weaker weapons fire faster than stronger weapons, with the end result being that the increased rate-of-fire offsets the decreased firepower and vice-versa. In the end, your weapon choices have a mostly negligible effect on how you approach combat. So long as you continually upgrade your weapons — each weapon type comes in light, medium and heavy varieties — the game plays essentially the same, regardless of how your mech is equipped.

I would have preferred the developer had implemented a more complicated weapon system, utilizing encumberance, heat-sinks or both to force players into making more strategic choices in their mech’s payload. With encumberance, the weight of your weapons would factor into the overall movement speed of your mech, allowing players to build light, nimble combatants, or heavy, powerful tanks slower to move. Heat-sinks would limit your payload, meaning that you might be forced to choice between equipping two relatively weak cannons with a high rate of fire, or a single uber-powerful cannon that eats up more of your mech’s resources. Systems such as these would have made the game more interesting, and given it more replay value, as players could play through more than once with different armaments for new challenges.

Another failing is the game’s poor implementation of ambushes. Typically, enemies will already be present in a room when you enter. Sometimes, however, the room will appear at first to be empty, then an ambush will sound and enemies will warp into the room to attack. Ambushes are poorly handled, though, in that there is essentially no difference between the enemies already being there, or the enemies appearing before you’ve taken more than a step from the entrance. It amounts to the same: you enter the room, and enemies are there. And because every room includes enemies without exception, it’s never as if you’re not expecting a fight …

Ambushes could have been put to much better use. For example, the room could appear to be empty until your mech reaches the center or some precarious position on a landing, then having the ambush sound and enemies warping in to surround you. Another idea would be to have ambushes occur at random when retracing your steps through previously cleared rooms, where you would otherwise not be expecting an encounter. In these ways, ambushes might have been used to spice up the action and to provide diversity to encounters which the game is otherwise lacking.

The enemies in Robokill come in many shapes and sizes. Some walk and some fly. Some charge at you, while others fire at you. Some are fast, others slow, and some are stationary. They utilize different types of weapons, with varying damage capability and rates of fire. Some are shielded and others not. They may attack in groups, or on their own. But the game lacks boss encounters altogether, and that’s just sad. I really, desperately wish the game featured a few large-scale, epic boss battles with gigantic machines. Retro-style bosses with pattern-based attacks and cool weapons. Lacking bosses, the missions lack any type of climax. Instead, it’s simply a matter of clearing the rooms and moving on.

The sound design is overall pretty good, but the game lacks music aside from the the title screen.

And finally, there are 13 missions and that is all. It seems a gross oversight that the game doesn’t include a survival mode.

In conclusion, Robokill is a really good game that falls somewhat short of being great — not because of anything broken, but simply because it misses out on so much potential. And while I have not for a moment regretted paying the game’s premium $7.99 price, the lack of game modes and repetitiveness of the gameplay is nonetheless off-putting.

But despite the game’s shortcomings, Robokill is an easy recommendation. Designed specifically for the iPad, it plays better than any other dual-stick shooter I’ve tried on the device, it’s gorgeous and I’ve been having a blast with it.

Robokill – Rescue Titan Prime is developed by Wandake Entertainment, and sells for $7.99 exclusively for the iPad. Reviewed at version 1.1.

‘Age of Zombies’ Out on App Store Now

Dual-stick shooter Age of Zombies is prepping up for it’s Oct. 28 release date as a universal app with a new trailer.

The trailer shows Barry Steakfries, main protagonists at the player’s disposal, in action trying to survive hordes of zombies and other enemies unleashed at him.

Halfbrick Studios originally released Age of Zombies as a PSP Mini Feb. 25 of this year, and since have decided to port the title for the iDevices. The developer is responsible for App Store titles such as Fruit Ninja and Monster Dash, and promises new features in the iDevice version of Age of Zombies.

The game will have players trying to fight off enemy onslaughts with various weapons such as a flamethrowers and rocket launchers. Beside zombie attacks — humans, caveman, mummies, ninjas, and the T-Rex — will make their presence felt as well in a variety of environments.

According to Halfbrick’s website, at least one new level and weapons will be features in the iDevice version. And, an abominable snowman called Yeti Heights will also show up Oct. 28.

‘Age of Zombies’: Barry Steakfries Comes back for More

Last time we checked, Barry Steakfries was part of the uberly addictive Monster Dash, a game which we gave the Must Have award for its pure genius.

Upon arriving at the laboratory of the evil Professor Brains, Barry discovers a plot to destroy mankind by sending zombies throughout time to wreak havoc! As a pro-shooting kind of guy, Barry rises to the challenge and steps through the portal, determined to save the world and make it home in time for dinner.  Players will blast their way through five unique worlds in this hilarious twin-stick shooter! Featuring zombie cavemen, mummies, ninjas and the legendary Zombie T-Rex, Barry has an action playground just waiting to be explored.

But Halfbrick Studios is far from slowing down, announcing their new and upcoming dual-stick shooter Age of Zombies.  The game was originally developed for the PSP Mini and ported over with updated graphics and a new UI.

On top of that, Halfbrick has also decided to make the game universal, meaning it will run natively on both the iPad and iPhone and the iPod touch.

Age of Zombies is slated for an October 2010 release, and we’ll have more info as it becomes available.

Solomon’s Boneyard Review: Lots of bones, but few to pick

Solomon’s Boneyard appeared in the App Store this afternoon, the follow-up to Raptisoft‘s excellent dual-stick dungeon crawler Solomon’s Keep.

Solomon’s Boneyard is a prequel to Solomon’s Keep, taking place 23 years before the events of the previous game. Players step into the boots of one of seven young wizards selected by the Wizarding College to end Solomon Dark’s burgeoning reign of terror. Unfortunately for you, failure is inevitable. Anyone having already played Solomon’s Keep already knows that Solomon survives to become a powerful and malevolent sorcerer, and so it makes perfect sense that the Wizarding College’s initial attempts to put him down should come to naught. Indeed, the college’s High Wizard hardly imagines him to be a threat at this point, saying “There’s no promotion in a job this small … [but] maybe our young Mr. Dark will even put up enough of a fight for you to gain a level or two.” And so it is that the Wizarding College, rather than sending a more qualified wizard to perform the task, instead sends a junior wizard: you.

The nature of the game makes perfect sense within the context of the history of the Solomon series. Solomon’s Boneyard is a dual-stick survival action game in which you fend off ever increasing hoards of undead and demonic creatures for as long as possible. Ultimately, you die. And die you must so that Solomon shall live to appear in Solomon’s Keep twenty-three years on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put up a good fight.

To begin, players choose from amongst four wizards: Sirmin the Wizard, Lucritius the Fire Mage, Aliss the Witch or Morth the Icebender, each possessing different primary and secondary attack skills. Sirmin fires enemy-seeking magic missiles and Aliss casts lightning magic; as their names would imply, Lucritius and Morth cast fire and ice magic respectively.

Despite its lackluster and repetitive environment, Solomon’s Keep managed to shine in having one of the deepest, most robust leveling systems of any game of its kind. Solomon’s Boneyard dutifully follows in that vein with more than thirty skills to master, a new perks system, and the new ice-based primary skill set. On attaining a new experience level, players are offered a random selection of skills from which to choose a single upgrade for their character. Upgrades include the ability to strengthen or otherwise improve attack skills, increase life or mana, increase mana recovery, casting cost, movement speed and more. And because skills are presented at random, your character will never grow the same way twice!

Gold collected during play is persistent and accumulates over the course of many games. When beginning a new game, gold may be spent to unlock perks with which to customize and strengthen your characters, allowing you to increase in power the more you play the game. Gold is also used to unlock the games three additional wizards — Wegnus, Griselda and Vorpus — who possess multiple primary attack skills and who can, beginning at level 5, weld their attacks into powerful new magics.

Likes:

Leveling: Solomon’s Keep had one of the best leveling systems of any game of its kind, and Solomon’s Boneyard takes the concept even further with perks. Mixing and matching skills and perks, developing your character into a devastating beast of a wizard, and smashing the undead hordes beneath the forces of your spellcraft is simply awesome.

The Boneyard: My only complaint against Solomon’s Keep was that the floors of the keep were all identically bland, consisting of nothing more than cold gray stone. By comparison, the boneyard is a magnificent environment. Massive trees surround the boneyard, their branches hanging over and obscuring attackers from view. Gravestones and statues stand solemnly in place, cutting into the glow of your staff and throwing long shadows across the cold earth. Open graves yawn in darkness, and cobblestone footpaths swarm with skeletons and their ilk.

Characters: Solomon’s Boneyard generously provides you seven characters from which to choose after unlocking the three hidden wizards, each with different primary skill sets. I just wish six of them didn’t insist on wearing the cliche, pointy wizard’s hat. Morth at least has good sense to wear a cowl.

OpenFeint Achievements: Ten achievements await, totaling 1,000 points!

Dislikes:

Only One Environment: Like its predecessor, Solomon’s Boneyard has only a single environment, that being the titular boneyard. And while that boneyard is a good deal more atmospheric and impressive than Solomon’s barren keep, it does get old quickly. A few more maps could certainly do the game some good.

Not Much New: If you’ve played Solomon’s Keep, you will be well familiar with nearly all of what Solomon’s Boneyard has to offer. The same enemies and skills as before make a return, and I’ve seen nothing new in my time with the game aside from Morth’s ice spells. Rather than a full game unto itself, it plays more like a amputated bonus mode from Solomon’s Keep.

Overall, Solomon’s Boneyard is an excellent title and well worth its $0.99 price tag. Fans of dual-stick shooters, survival titles or Solomon’s Keep will definitely want to pick this one up. The depth of the skills and perks makes this one of the coolest survival games in the app store, and beats the hell out of Minigore. While it offers little new content over its predecessor, there are few bones to pick with what’s here. It would have made an excellent DLC survival mode for Solomon’s Keep, but stands just as well on its own as a separate app.

My only remaining hope is that the third iteration of the series will dispatch our wizards on an epic RPG journey through new and varying environments, full of exciting new foes and challenges! How about it, Raptisoft?

Solomon’s Boneyard is developed by Raptisoft, and available for $0.99. Reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 4.


Disney Releases ‘Tron’ for iPhone, Free

While Disney‘s movie Tron hasn’t captured my attention yet, the game sure looks like a lot of fun.  From the sparse game description and the screenshots, it looks to be an online multiplayer dual-stick shooter, although I could be wrong.  The last screenshot shows some sort of “user profile received” stuff, but I can’t really make out what that is/means.

But anyways, all the detective nonsense aside, you won’t have to be doing this if you just download the game.  Disney, to the happiness of App Store customers, has released Tron for completely free with no hidden costs and such.

You can download Tron on the App Store now for, you guessed it, free.  Already downloaded it?  Be sure to leave your impressions below in the comments.

Binary translation:

This TRON app will evolve. ComiTRON coming 072210.

Something else is coming too, so you might want to check the App Store July 22nd.

iTunes link: