Tag Archives: Shoot ‘Em Up

Roswell Fighter Review: A Stylish, Challenging Shooter

Roswell Fighter, by Gamelab Innovation Center, is a stylish, hardcore arcade shoot’em up with a retro 1950’s vibe. In ways, the game hearkens back to old-school classics like 1942 and 1943: The Battle of Midway. As one might suppose from the title, though, the game draws more heavily upon War of the Worlds than on World War II. Aliens are invading the Earth, and it’s up to you to stop them.

In the game, players take on the role of a nameless female fighter pilot. She’s hot, and will occasionally make quips during game play, usually when you die. Otherwise, there’s no characterization to speak of. Preceding each level, a load screen will briefly lay down the story and set the scene, giving you a sense of location for the upcoming battle, but mostly amounting to “OMG! Aliens! Kill’em!” Fortunately, arcade shooters don’t require a great deal of narrative to be enjoyed.

Where Roswell Fighter really shines is in its presentation and game play. The pixel-drawn graphics look spectacular. Enemy fighters, turrets and other hazards are distinct and nicely designed; the stage backdrops are also quite excellent, the landscapes rolling by beneath your plane as you do battle. A lot of effort has clearly been put into the game’s visuals. The soundtrack is comprised of 1950’s era rock’n roll, lending the game a distinct sense of character and complementing the other elements of the presentation.

As in most arcade shooters, players pilot their fighter through each stage against overwhelming opposition, dodging enemies and enemy fire, maneuvering to avoid obstacles, fighting both mobile air units and stationary ground targets, collecting power-ups and accumulating points. Players may choose either tilt or touch controls, with the touch controls being the superior of the two options. Roswell Fighter occasionally mixes things up by throwing in touch-based challenges. In the first stage, for example, a large UFO swoops into view with two touch-points highlighted; players must quickly taps these spots to bring down the craft. Similar events take place throughout the game’s eleven stages, becoming more challenging as the game progresses.

Difficulty ramps up swiftly in Roswell Fighter even on the easiest difficulty level, so lightweights need not apply. There’s always a lot happening on-screen, with enemies, bullets and obstacles filling the sky. In a way it’s nice to see that, after decades of Earth attacks, video game aliens have finally learned how to mount a successful invasion. The alien forces are extremely formidable. On the other hand, it really sucks for Earth.


Visual Presentation: Roswell Fighter earns high marks for visuals. The pixel graphics are fantastic throughout the game. Enemies are distinct and ever every changing, the landscapes varied and attractive, and the set-pieces and bosses fill the touch-screen with impressive bulk. The stages are strewn with perils such as massive UFOs and drilling machines, immense gun turrets, falling meteors and more.

Audio: The 1950’s inspired rock’n roll helps the game to stand out from the pack of shooters on the app store, and lends unique atmosphere to Roswell Fighter. A much appreciated departure from the norm.

Enemies: Few iPhone games are able to boast such variety of opposition as Roswell Fighter. There are more than 40 types of enemies, each with their own attack and movement patterns. The game is constantly throwing new things at you, so that every stage feels fresh and new. The creators obviously understand that the best way to avoid monotony is simply not to be monotonous.

Bosses: Seven huge bosses await, and are both impressive and challenging. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say the designs are very cool, and the bosses are worth the effort it takes to reach them.


Difficulty: In Roswell Fighter the action is fast and frantic, and very challenging. In fact, you’d better get used to dying, because Roswell Fighter is H-A-R-D. There are three difficulty levels, represented by icons on the stage selection screen: green, orange and a red skull-head. The game doesn’t give them text labels, but I would identify the difficulty levels as Hard, Extremely Hard and Friggin’ Impossible. That’s right, kids; even on the easiest difficult setting, the game will trounce you. While I’m all for a good challenge, Roswell Fighter’s punishing difficulty may make it inaccessible to more casual gamers.

Performance: Throughout the game, my iPhone 3G suffered performance hits when the screen become crowded with enemies. It wasn’t enough to break the game, but it was definitely a nuisance. Gamers on older devices should definitely take the lite version for a test drive before committing to buy the full game, if only to ensure that it runs tolerably well for you.

Roswell Fighter offers a unique interpretation of the classic arcade shooter, with several twists, lots of atmosphere, a ton of impressive content, a bit of touch-screen flare, and a heaping spoonful of the hard stuff. Those gamers willing to endure its punishing difficulty will find a gem in Roswell Fighter, and their $0.99 well spent.

At the same time, the game’s difficulty is also its downfall, as it renders the game inaccessible to casual gamers and difficult to widely recommend. Those looking for challenge should step right up, while more tender gamers ought to make a beeline for the lite version. Like a steaming cup of tea, it’s better to test the water temperature before gulping it down. I’d like to rate Roswell Fighter a Buy, but the difficulty being what it is and serving the larger audience, my gut advises it’s Worth a Look.

Roswell Figher ( $0.99 / free ) is developed by Gamelab Innovation Center. Reviewed on an iPhone 3G at version 1.2.

Final Gameplay Trailer for ‘Radio Flare Redux’

We’ve been following Radio Flare Redux quite closely, and the final gameplay trailer for the shoot-em-up has been released.  It shows off more of the gameplay along with the controls, and while I’m still a little bit confused, it looks to be shaping up quite nicely.

It can be assumed that Radio Flare Redux will also implement Chillingo’s Crystal social platform, which has been implemented into most of it’s existing games along with its upcoming.  And like the previous version, Radio Flare Redux will be based on the music and the beat, both of which seem to be a strong selling point.

From our previous article:

  • Play to the music’s beat as your spacecraft moves and shoots in rhythm. Target enemies and see them pulsate and explode to the tune of each song. Radio Flare REDUX makes music an interactive experience.
  • With 33 diverse planet levels based on licensed techno, club and house tracks by internationally renowned DJs. An unprecedented level of audio immersion is guaranteed.
  • Club-style visuals and fast-paced fights combine to create a synesthetic cosmic adventure for your ears and fingertips.
  • Play with either Drag or Joystick options to pilot your ship as it powers through space, dodging opponents and surrounded by music.
  • Gain stars to unlock new planets and take on missions that challenge your knack for rhythm. Unlock a Musical Toy sequencer that lets you arrange sound effects in rhythm and a Visualizer mode that lets you cruise through a level without enemies to enjoy the stimulating graphics and music.
  • Explore space with friends and compare your scores and results with Chillingo’s dynamic social gaming network!
  • Use the screen capture feature to tweet your gameplay screenshots and brag of your achievements!

We can’t wait to get our hands on this title, and it looks to be shaping out quite nicely.  And without further ado, here is the final gameplay trailer we’ve all been waiting for.  Price is still yet to be determined.

‘Assault Squadron’, An Upcoming Game from Chillingo

I recently received news of a new and upcoming game from Chillingo known as Assault Squadron, a space shoot-em-up featuring many different control methods, four types of ships, and other features.  And while shoot-em-ups are one of the most crowded genres on the App Store, Assault Squadron seems to have enough to convince a gamer to buy yet another shoot-em-up.

I personally think that the graphics look very good, and while the gameplay itself looks pretty generic, this is all judging from the screenshots.  Everything you would expect from a shoot-em-up is also included: different gameplay modes, ship upgrades, and extraordinary boss fights.

We’ll have more information once they appear, but for now, check out the new batch of screenshots.  We can’t judge much for now, but I must say that the screenshots have sparked my interest.

Cell War Review: An Epic Journey into the Micro World

Recently I picked up Cell War, a game developed by TipCat Mobile. Cell War is a side-scrolling shooter, and immediately upon looking at it I thought it would be another one of those run-of-the-mill games. Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised when I started playing the game. The smooth graphics, visual and sound effects, and easy controls blew me away. Even though I’ve never been too big on side-scrolling games, I have to say that Cell War is an outstanding finished product.


Interface: When you start up the game the menu is very sleek and organized. I had no trouble navigating around the options and exploring things I could tweak.

Controls: The controls were very simple; tilt to move, tap on enemy to launch missile, and tap the bottom to corners to initiate a temporary blast shield which destroys all the projectiles that within a small radius of your ship.

The ship automatically fires and the tilt can be calibrated, so you can play at any angle of your choosing. Needless to say, the controls felt very natural and responsive. There is no option for touch controls, which I would have preferred, but the tilt does an amazingly good job.

Depth: Once you start up a new game, you have the choice of three difficulty levels: easy, normal, or hard. I think TipCat Games clinched Cell War with this; both casual and hardcore players will be satisfied with what the game has to offer.

On the easy level, there were noticeably less enemies, they fired slower, and there was never more than one semi-boss or boss on the screen at one time. On the hard difficulty, the screen began to become swarmed with easily killed but annoying enemies, and sometimes there was even more than one semi-boss on screen. In addition, there are quite a few levels and numerous bosses. No matter what the player’s skill level is at, Cell War has something to offer to each and every person and will satisfy their need for a quality shooter.


Upgrades: The upgrade system in this game is not very well implemented. The only way you can get better weapons, missile capacity upgrades, and health power-ups are by luck. Randomly throughout levels you will see power-up boxes.  You have to break these to get a random upgrade. Enemies also sometimes drop upgrades, but it is also completely by chance if you get something good.

When I’m playing, I don’t really like getting a health restore when I’m at full health or a basic laser when my ship is destroying everything and shooting five bullets at a time. The power-ups are really great in terms of use and application in the game, but I just don’t like the way that you get them.

In conclusion, Cell War has an large amount of depth compared to other games on the App Store. In total, the game has more than ten bosses, three difficulty levels, and nine types of stages. The $2.99 price tag may seem steep for a game of this genre, but once you buy it you won’t be disappointed. In the future I’d like to see an in-game shop of sorts and an endless mode, but the game is great as it is right now. This is a definitely a game that should be on your “buy” list.

Cell War was developed by TipCat Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 of the game on my iPod Touch 2G. Currently the price point of the game is $2.99 with a Lite version to try.

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jeff to our writing team!  Cell War is his first review and article on the site, and you can expect many more reviews coming your way courtesy of Jeff.  Please welcome him in the comments!



A Crazy Fighter Review: Welcome to Bullet Hell

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.


A Crazy Fighter was developed by Can We Technology Company and is available for $0.99.  I played through version 1.0 on an iPhone 3G.

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.