Tag Archives: Top-Down Shooter

Dodonpachi Resurrection Review: iPhone, Meet Bullet-Hell

Top-down shooters are usually not my type of game; I have fun with them but I am for sure no expert.  I can’t even remember the name of the last top-down shooter I’ve played, only remembering that it was fun and enjoyable.

So when Cave released Dodonpachi Resurrection for the iPhone, I was curious to find out how it played with no intentions of actually getting deep into the gameplay and playing for hours upon end.  But that’s exactly what happened… all without me knowing it.

And after playing for hours and hours, I can’t help but say that I’m satisfied.  And satisfied is an understatement.

Likes

Bullet-hell: This is my first introduction to the bullet-hell genre; I haven’t played Cave’s previous game Espgaluda II and I haven’t played anything close to this on any other platform.  With that said, I’ve finally been introduced to bullet-hell and I really like what I see.  The screen is absolutely chaotic and things are exploding from left to right; I can’t help but feel a bit giggly inside, the same feeling a pyromaniac gets when he or she starts burning something.

Controls: The bar on the bottom allows you to control your ship without having to obstruct the view of the screen.  Sure in terms of aesthetics it isn’t the prettiest, but it sure makes the controls a lot easier than any other top-down shooter I’ve played.  They’re accurate, feel natural, and allow sharp moves and turns that wouldn’t be possible with any other control option.  While their solution was simple, it works to perfection.

OpenFeint achievements: I usually don’t expect old or retro companies like Cave to implement OpenFeint into their games, just like I wouldn’t expect Gameloft or EA Mobile to implement it.  But Cave did, which comes as quite a surprise, and they implemented it with well over 40 achievements.  It’s a sign, to me atleast, that they’ve studied the market and took the time to see what iPhone gamers want, and I applaud them for that.

Variety: There are a lot of enemy types, a lot of different bosses, and just a lot of everything.

Dislikes

Repetitive: Each level is essentially the same, with one mini-boss towards the middle of the level and one towards the end.  The game does start to get repetitive after a certain amount of time, but it shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

Short arcade mode: The arcade mode shouldn’t last anyone longer than 30 minutes, although you can go through that gameplay mode three different ways with three different ships.  Still, it is a bit short and would have been better with more levels.

Dodonpachi Resurrection is the best top-down shooter I’ve ever played, and being a newbie at bullet-hell shooters, I’ve had a ton of fun with it.  Even though it is a bit short, I’ve still poured in hours into the game by replaying the arcade and iPhone mode over and over again.  Achieving those achievements aren’t too bad either, and overall, I can’t NOT recommend this to everyone.

Dodonpachi Resurrection was developed by Cave, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $8.99.


Air Attack Review: It’s Da Bomb

The app store has recently suffered no lack of top-down shooters. Unfortunately, most of them have sent my running back to Space Invaders Infinity Gene like a hurt child to his mum. Happily, Art In Games‘ Air Attack ( iPhone / iPad ) is not one of those games. Instead, it’s a genuinely good top-down shooter — good without any need for qualifiers — and the game that 1942: First Strike probably should have been, but wasn’t.

Air Attack takes place in fictionalized World War II era setting. Players pilot a fighter through a series of stages combatting enemy fighters, tanks, boats and other combat machinations including Nazi-esque UFOs. Wha?! Yeah. Bonuses and cash can also be earned by bombing ground targets such as towns, bridges and installations during combat.

At mid-level checkpoints, cash can be spent upgrading your fighter with enhanced cannons and bombs, wingmen, an auto-targeting turret, a lightning attack and more. Most upgrades are locked at first, but become unlocked by scoring in-game achievements, and remain unlocked thereafter for subsequent games.

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Presentation: Air Attack is built on Unity’s 3D engine, and sports excellent visuals. The planes and other crafts look great, as do the landscapes, bosses and visual effects. The sound also is appropriately epic for the setting and serves to enhance the experience.

Action: Air Attack is an engaging shooter and gets rather hairy in later stages. Enemies attack in diverse formations and patterns, enter the field of view from all directions, and generally provide a good variety of opposition. The air is ever full of bullets, and there’s no downtime during play; you’re pretty much always gunning.

Upgrades: The shop offers an excellent array of upgrades for your plane, and plays fair in its handling of power-ups. When killed, your cannon will be downgraded one point and you will lose your wingmen, turret, missiles, etc. But they don’t knock you back to point zero; power-ups are priced fairly, so you can usually build up again within one or two checkpoints.

Life-bar: While most top-down shooters are one-hit kills, Air Attack isn’t so cruel. Your plane has a health bar and you are able to take a few hits before going down. To wit, one stupid mistake isn’t going to cost you all the power-ups you’ve accumulated.

Control Options: Air Attack includes several control options including tilt, touch and relative touch. Dropping bombs is as simple as double-tapping the screen, and — however you choose to steer — the motion controls are tight.

The Little Things: The way the water looks and the fact that you can see sunken ships beneath the water’s surface. The way your plane rolls when you flick backward quickly. When shot down, the way that some planes will explode in mid-air, while others will plummet to the ground in an uncontrolled dive. How the camera shifts every so often to give the impression of changing altitude. Air Attack features lots of cool little touches that take the game that extra mile.

Dislikes

Blatant Disregard for Physics: Aerodynamics? Gravity? Momentum? Phooey! Hoo-ha! Throughout the game, occasions will arise when your plane with stop flying forward, and will begin to strafe in circle around a large enemy as if it were instead a helicopter. In several battles against larger airplanes, you will blow off both wings and the tail section of the enemy plane, and yet they will remain airborne and keep fighting. Just how does an airplane continue to fly without wings, I’d like to know?! And how does a World War II fighter plane maneuver like a helicopter?! It’s utterly ridiculous, of course, but doesn’t really stop the game being fun.

Bombing is More or Less Optional: Bombing ground targets it entirely optional, and bombs don’t really play any key role in progressing through the game. Your fighter’s cannons are capable of striking opposition both in the air and on the ground at range, and so bombs are relatively pointless in combat. Bombs can be used to damage enemies on the ground, but they will usually be blown away before you’re closing enough to make a bombing run. I would have liked for the bombs to have been tied into combat in a more significant way.

Vague Narrative: Like a Bruckheimer film, Air Attack is high on action, grand in scale, but shallow when it comes to the plot. The stages are all given operational names — Green Fox, White Storm, etc. — but there’s no narrative to set the stage for these operations. Likewise, it’s never clear just who you’re fighting. The setting is reminiscent of World War II era and many of the enemy craft bear swastika-like markings, but then you also find yourself battling flying saucers, lighting turrets, and laser-wielding fighters unlike any plane I’ve ever seen. So, are the bad guys technologically advanced Nazis, or are they fascist alien invaders with a taste for Germanic fashion? Does Mars belong to the Axis of Evil, or did the Fascists find spaceships buried beneath the Egyptian pyramids? And when the hell did World War II spread to the Egyptian Front?! Just what is going on here?!

Another odd point, as careful as the game is to not to portray the actual Nazi swastika, it seemingly has no qualms displaying the Japanese flag on enemies later in the game. Hm.

Overlooking the fact that the game doesn’t make any sense and is, at times, utterly ridiculous, Air Attack is a superb shooter. It’s definitely one of my new genre favorites, and a game I see myself returning to play down the road, either at higher difficulty levels, or simply for the sake of enjoying it again. With both the standard iPhone version and an HD iPad version going for just $0.99 each, picking this one up is really a no-brainer.

Air Attack is developed by Art In Games; both HD and iPhone versions reviewed on an iPad. App Store link: $0.99 / HD $0.99.


Chillingo Releases: ‘Assault Squadron’ and ‘Pirate’s Treasure’ Out Now

Both are games we’ve had hands-on previews for (Assault Squadron, Pirate’s Treasure), and both are games that we thought had promise.  Assault Squadron, in the beta build I played, showed huge promise as one of the best top-down shooters I’ve played in the App Store so far, although I haven’t tried too many.

The object of Pirate’s Treasure is to, of course, collect as many treasure as possible.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds, as you always have odd-looking creatures guarding these valuable pieces of gold and jewels.

Ahoy mateys! As beautiful as Treasure Island is, you wouldn’t want to vacation there. It’s packed with all kinds of murderuous scallywags including the Grim Reaper himself! Combining elements of RPG, exploration and all-out blasting mayhem, Pirate’s Treasure takes you on an enjoyable quest to recover riches from creatures both natural and magical. Prepare to battle boss enemies that are too massive to fit on the screen!

Pirate’s Treasure was a little bit generic, with many similarities to Minigore and Guerrilla Bob, but the graphics were stunning and the gameplay isn’t too bad.  Dual-stick shooter junkies should be more than happy with this title, and at $1.99, it’s not too shabby.  It is on an introductory sale though, so be sure to pick it up before it goes back up in price.

Assault Squadron, on the other hand, is about how the earth is under attack, and you are part of the Elite Squadron sent out the combat these so-called “unknown aircraft”, although it’s quite obvious that they are some sort of alien race.  The graphics were very well made in the preview build I received, and action wasn’t short at all.

Assault Squadron is priced at $2.99, while Pirate’s Treasure is priced at $1.99 for a limited time introductory sale.

Assault Squadron

Pirate’s Treasure



Upcoming Games: ‘Shadow Edge’ and ‘Above and Below’

Two upcoming games from Pastel Games happen to be Shadow Edge and Above and Below.  Shadow Edge is a dual-stick shooter that appears to take place in some sort of dungeon, while Above and Below is a top-down shooter in the veins of iFighter and WWII top-down shooters.

While there’s not much information in terms of gameplay details, Pastel Games has released a video for each game.  Embedded in this post are the necessary tools for you to watch these videos.  What are your thoughts?  Cool-looking?  Nothing at all?  Let us know in the comments.

Please note that both games will be launched on the iPad and an iPhone version has not been announced.  We should have some more information as they become available and hope to secure some preview builds as time passes by.

Shadow Edge:

Above and Below:


Hands-On with Assault Squadron: Best Top-Down Shooter Out There?

Most top-down shooters on the iPhone have been defined by one word so far: suck.  They’re boring, bland, generic, etc. etc.  The only top-down shooter I’ve ever enjoyed on a mobile phone was on an old Sony Ericsson a couple of years ago, and I played that game until my battery died.  While I can’t remember the name of the game, it was one of the first and best top-down shooter I have ever played.

So why hasn’t it been successful on the iPhone?  I know there have been many such as iFighter, Sky Force Reloaded, and Siberian Strike; but I’ve never enjoyed any of them as much as I have Assault Squadron.  Wowza, this is one shooter that should definitely be on your wish list.

The build I received was still well into the beta stage, but still, I had a lot of fun with it.  The included controls were touch, and while I had some slight problems with them, I still enjoyed the game very much.  There weren’t tilt controls included in the options, but of course, the game is still a ways off from being submitted.

One of the most impressive features or things that I noticed about Assault Squadron were the voiceovers.  The voiceovers sounded professional, clean-cut, and extremely… intense.  You can hear some guy talking over a walkie talkie (or whatever they have in the future), and I was more than impressed with the professional voiceovers.

Along with that, Assault Squadron is extremely polished.  There are dozens of impressive cutscenes along with wonderful 2.5D graphics.  I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What a good looking, professional looking game.”

Only one word can describe Assault Squadron: impressive.  Of all the top-down shooters that I’ve played on the iPhone, this one seems to be one of the best.  I had a blast with it, and with tons of content, boss battles, and an interesting weapon upgrade system; I can see this becoming a home run.

But it’s not all about top-down shooting.  While I enjoyed the top-down aspect much more, there are levels in which you must take the side view of all ships, or in other words, a side-scrolling shooter.  At first, I thought the developers were trying a bit too hard to make the game different from the rest, then I realized that it’s not too bad after all.

Even with the beta build I played, I was more than impressed.  Look for this bomb to drop into the App Store late this month or early April.  And when I mean look, I mean it.  It can also be assumed that Assault Squadron will implement Chillingo’s Crystal social platform.