Tag Archives: Space Shooter

Space Invaders Infinity Gene EVOLVES!!

The iPhone’s very best shooter — Space Invaders Infinity Gene — is now the best shooter on the iPhone 4 and iPad. TAITO today released version 4.0 of their masterfully remade classic, upgrading the game to include universal support for the iPhone and iPad, high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina display, and improved frame-rates on all devices. The update also adds a new Survival mode, Game Center support and achievements. If, for whatever INSANITY, you don’t already own it, you now have even more reasons to buy Space Invaders Infinity Gene. The full list of 4.0 improvements, as published by TAITO is:

1. Now optimized for iPhone 4 and iPad, featuring vibrant graphics and smoother framerate that surpass that of the previous version upscaled.

2. “SURVIVAL” has been added to the menu. SURVIVAL mode allows multiple Extra and Chimera stages to be played in sequence.
SURVIVAL mode now features DARIUS-style branching stages, with multiple endings prepared. Can you unlock every ending?!
* In SURVIVAL mode, new stages are unlocked via the Evolution Gauge.

3. Now Game Center compatible.

4. Now compatible with OpenFeint 3.7.4.

5. Achievements have been added.

Star Battalion Review: Futuristic Space Shooter with Intensity

Have you been missing a Warhawk, Starfox, or Rouge Squadron-like game on the iPhone? Gameloft has delivered by bringing out Star Batallion recently and surprisingly without much hype, to our touch devices. The title is a solid 3d space-shooter arcade-sim with 360 degree freedom-of-movement. It is a game that takes many inspiration from sci-fi shooters such as Starfox, Warhawk, and Rouge Squadron, among others — but comes out unique in its own way and should satisfy the 3d-space shooter itch mostly lacking on the iPhone. The gameplay shares similarities to Starfox in the sense that you have some wingmen along with you going through various missions – luckily two instead of three. The wingmen are just as useless, if not more so, than they were in Starfox, and they also ask you to rescue them from time to time. On the other hand I haven’t seen any of them die in any of my missions yet. In terms of movement of flight and exploration however, Star Batallion is more similar to other more open ended games like Rouge Squadron or Warkawk — because, although you are restricted to operate in a perimeter neat the mission objectives, you have 360 degrees of freedom to fly in.

The game will take players right into the story of an inter-galactic war being fought as a Resistance fighter, and squadron captain, Sonan, of Orion Force One. Two forces at war are the Resistance, and the The Royalists, and as you may notice, the story borrows a lot from the Starwars franchise of light vs dark. Some of the missions and planet layouts also share similarities, but are unique in their own right. The graphics are truly amazing with the Retina display, and there is usually a lot of action happening on screen with voice narrations and cut scenes before, after, and sometimes during missions. I only experienced some slowdown during heavy battles, but what Gameloft accomplished is still pretty amazing in terms of visuals and presentation.

There are various missions in the campaign ranging from escorting ground forces and protect their flanks, to taking part in large dogfights where you end up having to take on an enemy capital ship, and to collecting square energy fields in space. missions take place over vast areas, and planets — ranging from ice and snow, deserts, and cities. There is never shortage of action and intensity right from the get go.

Gyroscope controls are enabled with tilting and turning as the default control method. Although the sensitivity is a bit jerky at times and may need to be tinkered in the options menu, the tilt controls allow very fluid motion without the need to concentrate on a lot of touch inputs. I found them better than the alternative touch controls as my finger would slip from the control input and I had to take my eyes off the action to place it back. Barrel rolls with the swipe of the finger are used to escape enemy missles and lock-on, and there is also a Starfox-esque U-turn that you can do with a vertical touch-input and both these touch inputs work real well.

There are also two views you can choose to fly in. A cockpit view and a third person perspective view where you can see the plane in front of you. They offer almost two completely different experiences but both are made pretty well to control.

Likes

GameCenter support: There are various achievements to unlock and co-op online play is offered through either GameCenter or Gameloft’s service.

Graphics: Retina display is amazing, with great use of color and backgrounds. The landscapes in the background are usually very interesting to look at and very detailed. Examples of this are objects such as large spaceships to shoot down or cities located on the landscape, and far away planets or moons in the air. The polygon look very anti-aliased or with a lot of nice filtering because they are very smooth, moreso than I’ve even seen with other Gameloft titles.  There is a wide range of terrain throughout the game overall and all the areas you explore are interesting.

Overall-presentation: The presentation is excellent overall, with mission briefings taking place explaining the background and story of the game between mission chapters. There are also very nice cutscenes present rivaling console titles, and often they take place even after completing one mission objective and getting ready to start another in the missions. Sometimes unexpected turns and twists occur inside missions. The voice acting is very good overall and each character seems to have their own personality carved with character.

Intensity: The combat is very intense and literally made my adrenaline spike to the point where I stood up playing some missions.

Dislikes

Movement and Controls at times: Although there is a fair amount of freedom of movement offered I would have liked to be able to fly higher and lower than my default plane at times as there were many obstacles I kept hitting that I should have been able to fly over or under.

Target lock-on system: The targeting or aiming also needs fine-tuning, as you can’t choose who to target but the nearest enemies, and sometimes they are not even located in front of you but behind some object blocking your path like a piece of debris. I usually take out auto aiming in games such as this but the hit detection system and aiming is quite difficult in this title without it, almost too difficult as some laser shots seem to fly right past or through the enemy unless auto aim is on.

Sometimes you have to destroy small enemy forces like drones in the game or locate objects, and the automatic targeting system doesn’t always pick these out — assist stays on the enemy whose path you are nearest or across from. Finding these small enemy ships or objects to destroy can be difficult.

No online battles: Although there are multiplayer co-op campaign missions to play, I think games like this are truly designed for competitive dogfighting sessions if played in multiplayer.

Speed and acceleration adjustment: I was confused for a while between adjusting my speed in the game before figuring out there are only three options. There isn’t an actual throttle slider but you have to tap each of the three icons — one of which is a square signaling the mid or neutral speed and the other two are arrows signaling fast and crawling slow. I originally thought the square is where the speedometer is set and you have to adjust it either up or down — but instead of it being a slider, it acts as one of the buttons.At least the game allows some speed control as you can accelerate to catch enemies and later slow down when you want to target them for a clean shot. There is also an acceleration that occurs when you switch to the fastest speed from either of the slower once that sometimes causes your ship to fly further than aimed.

Overall, despite some minor gripes that can be fixed with updates such as deathmatch multiplayer, or lock-on controls, Star Batallion is a great flight-sim package that is very arcade-like in execution at times, but offers solid twitch-gameplay and challenge, with great presentation and graphics. I recommend it to any gamers looking for some dog-fighting action on their iPhone.

Star Batallion was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.0.0 on my iPhone 4. The price is $6.99.


Blue Defense: Second Wave! Review: Brilliant!

When John Kooistra proposed to create a real-time strategy title for the iPhone, I wondered why he should waste his time. I thought, “If EA cannot — with all its infinite resources — create an RTS that works on the iPhone, who does this guy think he is?” And yet he went on to create Red Conquest, one of the best RTS titles on the device. When Kooistra told me he was working on an Action RPG in which the only enemies were squares, I thought, “That can’t possibly be fun. Kooistra has lost his mind.” And yet, FASTAR! is brilliantly entertaining. And when Kooistra told me he was working on a sequel to Blue Defense — his early app store classic, and a game that was already perfect — I thought, “What’s the point? How could he possibly make a game better than the original?” Having played that sequel, however, I stand corrected.

John Kooistra is a rare developer, the sort who constantly challenges and confounds my expectations for iPhone gaming and then consistently delivers upon all of his grand promises and seemingly impossible ideas. And with Blue Defense: Second Wave! he has done so again.

A bit of history: The original Blue Defense! was released mere months after the app store’s inaugural launch and became an instant classic. At that time, few independent releases could claim such polish or vision, and fewer still were so deftly executed. While most developers were struggling with the concept of a gaming device without physical buttons, attempting to shoehorn archaic control methods into a device ill-suited to joysticks, d-pads and action buttons, Kooistra embraced the iPhone’s unique input methods — the touch-screen and the accelerometer — and produced a shooter unlike any other that had come before it. Blue Defense! was an early standard-bearer for iPhone gaming, one of the first and best embodiments of the new gaming ideologies the device would come to represent. A few months later, the 2.0 update made it all even better. Blue Defense! was — and after nearly two years still is — perfect. In truth, few of the app store’s early games have weathered so well.

And now fast-forward to present day: Enter Blue Defense: Second Wave, the more perfect sequel to a game that was already perfect to begin with. Despite there having been nothing broken or wrong with the first game, Second Wave takes all of its predecessor’s successes and improves upon them anyway.

The basic premise remains the same. The blue planet and its six-billion-plus inhabitants are under genocidal attack by alien invaders. It is your job to defend the planet against overwhelming odds by tilting your device to aim the planet’s orbital defense turret. The turret fires a continuous stream of projectiles straight up, “up” being relative to the position of your device. In the first game, that was all you could do and it was enough. For Second Wave, however, the blue planet has re-upped its defenses.

As in Blue Defense, the game perspective shifts and zooms to reveal incoming waves of invaders from all sides of your planet, and players must still juggle their devices to aim the turret at targets. In addition to your primary defense turret, however, Second Wave introduces multi-touch turrets allowing you to split your bullet stream to deploy up to ten additional turrets to target multiple invaders. The catch is that the turrets all draw from the same shared pool of energy. While a single stream fires at devastating full strength, the power of each stream is divided by the total number of turrets deployed. Therefore, two turrets will fire at half power; ten turrets will fire at one-tenth the strength of a single, consolidated bullet stream. In defending the blue planet on all sides, players must constantly be wary of spreading themselves too thin. Additional turrets may be deployed simply by dragging fingers around the screen; double-tap to lock a turret in position, and tap a locked firing reticle again to clear it.

Also new is the planetary cannon, a limited use weapon capable of ruinous attacks against the enemy. To fire the planetary cannon, touch the blue planet and drag outward in the direction you wish to fire. Players begin the game with three charges. Additional charges are awarded during the course of play, but not so frequently that players can abuse them. The planetary cannon should be used sparingly and only in times of dire need, lest the planet be left defenseless when it needs the cannon most.

Blue Defense: Second Wave also boasts more content than its predecessor; nearly four times by Kooistra’s reckoning, including 24 enemy types, 64 levels, over 200 medals to earn and four separate game modes.

Classic mode offers infinite play, always beginning with the same three levels to ease players in, then scaling in difficulty as subsequent attack waves are randomly thrown at the planet. Quick Start is another infinite play mode, but allows players to immediately jump into heavy combat by selecting their beginning wave; in this mode players can build high scores more quickly. Gauntlet mode challenges players to survive against ordered waves, and Level Select allows players to jump into individual levels to earn medals for achievements or to play their favorite waves infinitely for high scores.

Those having followed the Blue vs. Red conflict — comprising the games Blue Defense, Blue Attack and Red Conquest — will be familiar with the longstanding conflict between these races. In Second Wave, however, the forces of green also enter the fray, joining the red armada in an effort to crush the blue world. The red and green armies are distinct in their attack patterns and tactics, with red favoring all-out assault and overwhelming odds, while the green armada generally attempts to divide your attention in order to flank you, or to block your attacks while allowing attack units to slip through their defensive front-line. In other words, Red is all about brute force, while Green is all about tactics, and you — dear Blue — will be frantic trying to fend off their onslaught, constantly adjusting your defenses to deal with the ever changing threat.

As a bottom-line, Blue Defense: Second Wave is all action, all of the time. It’s a game entirely unique, without peer on the app store nor anywhere else. It’s a game genius in execution, and perfectly suited to the device on which it resides. And with so much aping occurring on the app store, it’s something of an anomaly in that it is the perfect iPhone shooter, and yet has produced no notable copycat titles; if you’re not playing Blue Defense, then you’re not playing anything even remotely similar.

As a sequel, Blue Defense: Second Wave captures everything that was great about the first game, refines it, builds upon it, ups the ante manifold. As good a game as was the first, it will be hard to go back after playing Second Wave. And as for the competition, there’s nothing out there worth a glance. If you own an iPhone, you owe it to yourself to buy this game.

Blue Defense: Second Wave! is now available in the US iTunes store for $0.99.

Blue Defense: Second Wave! is developed by John Kooistra and Cat In A Box Games. Reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 4.

Blue Defense: Second Wave! Trailer and Details released

John Kooistra and Cat-in-a-Box Games have today unveiled the trailer for their upcoming game Blue Defense: Second Wave, due for release September 30.

A sequel to the original Blue Defense! — which received a Must-Have rating here on NoDpad — Blue Defense: Second Wave! brings many new gameplay elements to bear, including multi-touch targeting, new enemies and the planet cannon! See all this and more in the trailer before, and look for our review of the game when it launches later in the month. This is definitely a game to look out for; in the brief time I’ve spent with the game so far, I’ve found it to be thoroughly awesome.

Bunz Fighter Review: The Best Vertical Shooter You’ve Never Played

Like a stealth ship in the night, Bunz Fighter has managed to slip beneath most app shoppers’ and review sites’ radars. Und das ist für Schande! Because Bunz Fighter is probably the best vertical shooter you’ve never played.

The year is 3XXX. Mysterious invaders have deployed a destructive new weapon into Earth’s orbit, and you have been selected to pilot the Bunz Fighter, a new attack fighter being sent to destroy the threat. Beginning from Earth’s surface, you must battle your way into orbit, where victory will be a hard won battle.

First hurdle, get past the queer name. Bunz Fighter takes its namesake from its developer, Bunz Software Development, based in China, whose mascot is some kind of stupid bunny. On paper, Bunz Fighter is a vertical shooter offering original graphics and music, multiple difficulty levels, five different control methods, OpenFeint integration, scalable effects depending on your device, a diverse array of opponents, and bullet-hell gameplay that is both challenging and accessible.

Likes:

Presentation: The graphics in Bunz Fighter are incredibly detailed. Every visual component is carefully and intricately crafted, including the Bunz Fighter, enemies ships, the massive boss ships and the stage backgrounds. Even the bullets, missiles, laser beams and other hazards have received obvious attention. Visually, the game is very well crafted. Unanimously, the ships feature awesome designs. The audio is also well done, with adequate sound effects and a soundtrack of compelling electronica blending ambiance with beats. The menus are nicely designed, animated and informative.

Those playing on more powerful devices, such as an iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPod Touch or iPad may also enable additional particle effects, shadows and foreground elements, stepping up the impressive visuals even further.

Control Types: With five included control schemes, you can basically play Bunz Fighter any way you want. The game recommends the Finger Swipe method, in which your fighter adheres to your finger-tip; I also preferred this method, finding it very responsive. As alternatives, though, the game includes Tilt-sensor controls, a Joystick method by which your fighter can be controlled by placing your finger anywhere on the screen, and two dual-pad control methods in which horizontal and vertical control of your fighter are separated on two axis. My only gripe with the controls is that the control method can only be selected when beginning a new game and cannot be changed mid-game.

Challenging and Accessible?!: Bunz Fighter offers multiple difficulty levels, with Easy and Normal being available from the start. Even on the easiest setting, though, the game will challenge your survival skills. Destroyed ships will leave behind gemstones of various size and value which can be collected by flying over them. At the conclusion of each stage, these gems are tallied and calculated into your total score. All gems are lost, however, at Game Over. Meaning that if you continue mid-stage, all gems collected up to that point are lost. With the stages being so challenging, and boss battles even more so, only the best players will manage to hold onto their gems until stage end.

Accessibility takes the form of an extremely forgiving system of continues. Having lost all of their fighters, players have the option of continuing their game from the precise location of their demise. Continues are unlimited, and while gems may be sacrificed, ground is never lost. So while novice players won’t be climbing the scoreboards, they will at least be able to muscle their way through the game using perseverance.

Weapons, Upgrades and More: Four primary weapons are available to players during the game, and will occasionally appear as pick-ups during each stage. Weapons can be upgraded by collecting multiples of the same weapon type, and your weapon level will be maintained even when switching to a different weapon type. At the beginning of the game, weapons can be upgraded to a maximum level of four, though this limitation will increase later in the game. My favorite weapon is the basic Straight Shot, which transforms into a spread cannon as its level increases. Other weapon types include the laser beam, energy wave and homing missiles. The game will generally deliver you upgrades to the currently equipped weapon; the upgrades will float around the screen until collected, and waiting them out will cause them to change, cycling through the various weapon types until collected. It’s rare then that you will accidentally pick up a weapon you don’t want, and still easy to switch weapon types if you want to.

In general, the weapons become more powerful and versatile at higher levels. In addition to their standard attack modes, however, they can also be manipulated using additional touch controls. For example, the spread of the Straight Shot can be adjusted via touch to become either a concentrated, narrow salvo, or a scattered, wide-area “shotgun” weapon. On their own, missiles fire in a straight line; a specific target can be selected by tap, however, causing the missile to home in on that target until destroyed.

The Bunz Fighter also possesses an “Ultimate” attack that can be unleashed when its energy gauge is full, either by shaking the device or tapping the screen with three fingers. The ultimate attack sweeps the entire screen with crushing lasers, devastating enemies.

Breaking atmosphere and delving into space, the Bunz Fighter will gain additional armor, changing its appearance and allowing it to take two hits in combat, rather than one. Weapon level limits are also increased, unlocking new, devastating potential.

Bosses: The stage-end bosses are gigantic, and the battles epic. Bosses have multiple weak points, and their attacks will evolve during the course of battle as they take damage. The first stage boss, for example, will begin by pelting you with bullets from its cannons. Take out those cannons, and the boss will begin launching missiles at you, then fling a part of its body at you, and will finally unleash a massive laser blast that consumes the center third of the screen. It’s a difficult fight to win without using continues, and it’s only the first of many challenging encounters to come! In a nice artistic touch, bosses are typically tied into the background in some way, emphasizing the point that detail has been paid to the overall stage design, and that the stages are not merely generic backdrops for the action.

OpenFeint Integration: Thirty-five achievements, plus global leaderboards for each of the game’s three difficulty levels make a great game even better. Kindly keeps track of your personal best score, as well as ranking you against others. I’m currently ranked 14 in Normal mode, which only tells me there are not enough people playing this game.

Dislikes:

N/A: Bunz Fighter covers its bases well, leaving little, if anything, to complain about. The game is beautiful to behold, with responsive controls, impressive battles and interesting locations. Hardcore gamers will need to hone their skills to win highscores, while casual players will be able to enjoy the game on their own terms using continues. What’s not to like? I could maybe complain about the “Set” button that allows you to access the menu from in-game, but that would just be nit-picking …

Bunz Fighter caters to all types of gamer, allowing each player to play on their own terms and to set their own goals, whether gunning for highscores or just looking for a good time. It’s a vertical shooter of breathtaking beauty, featuring an original soundtrack, versatile weaponry, vast customization options for everything from control methods to graphical effects, and epic space battles against larger-than-life opponents. Any shooter fan would be remiss in not playing this game or, at the very least, sampling the free Bunz Fighter Lite.

Bunz Fighter is an underdog deserving to be at the head of the pack, and the best vertical shooter I’ve played since Space Invaders Infinity Gene.

Bunz Fighter ( $1.99 / Free ), by Bunz Software Development, was reviewed on an iPhone 3G at version 1.1.