Price: HD $1.99 iPhone $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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An evil steampunk boss has stolen the color from the universe. It’s the player’s job to get it back in this dual-stick side-scrolling casual shooter, as they blast through six worlds, collecting up to three stars on each level as they go.
Gamers control a gun-toting cat-bandit straight out of a 1930′s Bertty Boop cartoon. Move him left and right via a slider (bottom left) and fire using a virtual joystick (bottom right) at a nicely varied set of enemies in the form of anything from zepplins from above to robot insects invading from both sides.
Shooting is continuous as long as a finger is on the dial and power-ups come along to give the bandit’s gun a boost of time-sensitive killing power. Points are accrued by completing attack combos and gameplay is casual, not intense, and not overly difficult. Instead of having the levels break up the game, progress through them is marked via checkpoint.
The controls are fantastic: responsive and intuitive. Most dual-stick shooters make me want to break out a pair of Flings or long for iCade compatibility, but the virtual slider and joystick in Color Bandits feel like extensions of the player’s hands.
There have been several mostly monochromatic titles released to much acclaim from gamers who prefer a hand-drawn look over cartoonish primary-colors or glossy animations. Color Bandits takes up residence in the middle of the spectrum, combining ever lusher backgrounds and a cute hero with enough urban-chic to keep it cool.
Not everything is steampunk, but it all has a retro feel; there are some 8-bit looking space invaders included, and all sorts of mechanical foes.
The lack of color is more than thematic – it’s worked into the gameplay. Progression through the worlds returns color to them, giving each environment a distinct and ever-changing look while providing a visual reward for making progress. The bosses, the most steam-punkish element of Color Bandits, look like giant cogs that spew an army of baby cogs and are different from one another in both style and challenge.
There is an unlockable survival mode, to change things up by losing the side-scrolling and making it all about points, once progress is made through the adventure mode.
Unfortunately, the game lacks variety and it isn't particularly hard. It’s more a credit to the controls and ease-of-play than my skills that I was able to complete the game in two sittings, albeit with far from perfect star-ratings. That’s a plus for casual gamers but fans of serious shooters will find this offering a bit light.
Color Bandits plays so well and looks so good, however, that what it loses for the more serious gamer, it should easily score with those looking for a fun little pick-up-and-play action title that requires minimal investment in money, time and practice, which is Chilingo’s bread-and-butter demographic anyway.
It may not be the most inventive title in their catalog, but Color Bandits redesigns the dual-stick shooter in such a friendly and accessible way, it should amuse devotees of the genre and win over those looking for a quick shooting fix.