Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
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Over a year since its original release, Bit Pilot's been updated with some new features. The game now has Game Center support, a new game mode called Tunnels that features massive quantities of asteroids to try and avoid. As well, the game now has Retina Display support, and is now a universal app for the iPad. Those devices also get a new exclusive game mode called Supermassive that features a game board that is twice as big, and requires the greater resolution of those devices to run properly. This unexpected update provides great value to return to the game for those who haven't picked it up in a while, or have just been playing it in 2X mode on their iPads. For more details, check out my interview with developer Zach Gage on The Portable Podcast.
- Carter Dotson
Where I live, there is no such thing as a video game arcade. They all died off in the mid-to-late 80’s. As a teenager, I spent much, i.e. all, of my time at one of three different arcades where I live, shoving all my allowance and grass-cutting proceeds into the coin-slotted mouths of unassuming coin-operated conmen encased in fiberglass or wooden cabinets. Hence, while I’m not really “into” retro/retro-style games, I can certainly appreciate them and the nostalgia they invoke.
Bit Pilot is an intense, retro, asteroid-dodging game. It boasts intuitive and precise touch controls, a good soundtrack by Sabrepulse, unlockable soundtracks and bonuses, eleven challenging achievements and OpenFeint integration (global high-score lists and rankings).
Bit Pilot’s premise is simple: Score as many points as you can by staying alive, i.e. keeping your ship intact, as long as possible. In so doing, you must dodge ever-evolving asteroids and lasers as long as you can, while collecting power ups, giving you health, in the form of “shields” and points. Blue/orange pills are worth 1000 points and red/blue pills give you health (an extra shield) and 250 points:
Bit Pilot contains two levels/modes of game play: Easy, which you begin with and Normal (un-lockable achievement by scoring 3500 points on Easy). You start with two shields (three lives). Each “hit” you take from an asteroid removes a level of shield protection. When you run out of shields and your bare ship hits an asteroid, it’s “game over.” As the game progresses, the asteroids (Gray, Yellow and Red) grow bigger and move faster and deadly laser beams make their debut, vaporizing your ship if you touch them.
Bit Pilot has different “unlockables,” in the form of additional music and wallpapers. Whenever your cumulative score reaches a certain level, these “unlockables” become available. They’re not much though and do little, if anything, to add to the game’s already-high replay value. The game also uses OpenFeint, allowing you to see who else is playing and challenge them to beat your highest score.
Bit Pilot is great for long or short term play. While players will love both modes, Normal mode is more challenging and thus, games are quicker and end faster, while Easy-mode games last longer. Bit Pilot’s intense game play is attributed to its winning formula for/of frenetic pace: The movement of the asteroids, etc. combined with your ship’s speed and movement, having to constantly dodge obstacles while collecting “bonuses” and its unique, innovative and intuitive game controls.
To control your ship, you simply swipe your thumb in the direction you want your ship to move and swipe in the opposite direction to slow your ship down (or hit a wall). You can also use both thumbs for quicker moves (to make the ship “boost” in the direction you swipe) and tighter control of your ship (Note: These are indeed my thumbs):
Initially, I found the control scheme awkward and unresponsive, resulting in me spastically thumbing my iPhone while my ship careened against the asteroids/walls within the level. However, after enough practice, i.e. being blown to bits and humiliatingly vaporized over and over, I found the controls to be “spot-on.” It does contain/require a “learning curve,” but after you’ve practiced enough to learn how to control your ship, you’ll find the innovative control scheme to be immersive, fun and rewarding.
Bit Pilot’s music/soundtrack, as mentioned earlier, is provided by Sabrepulse, a “chiptune” musician in Aberdeen, Scotland. The game includes 4 tracks, including the theme track. You can choose to play your favorite or opt for random selection once you’ve unlocked the others. While I’m no expert on “chiptune” or retro soundtracks, I will say this: Hearing Bit Pilot’s soundtrack invoked many memories of the time(s) I spent in “old-school” arcades.
While Bit Pilot, at face value, may not seem to have much to offer, the exact opposite is true; it’s a deceptively-intense game with a lot of personality, fluid controls and a thought-provoking soundtrack. It’s a successful, innovative “retro-infused” modern take on a well-defined, often-finicky genre. At only .99, Bit Pilot is well worth your allowance: Bit Pilot Demo