Developer: Rob Fearon and PsychicParrot Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.42
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

What is The DRM Death Ray Manta? Why, it’s a fast-paced, psychedelic and psychotic dual-stick shooter from Rob Fearon, ported to iOS by PsychicParrot Games. It looks crazy but has a clear sense of design and purpose that make it endearing.

At its heart, this is a fairly traditional dual-stick shooter. Left thumb moves, right thumb fires. Players get one life to last as long as they can in levels increasingly fraught with danger and glowing neon enemies to destroy.

DRM’s influence from Jeff Minter’s psychedelic style and Rob Fearon’s other titles is readily apparent while playing. The game is hyperactive, hyper-colorful, and just hyper-everything. It leaves little room for the player to breathe or even comprehend what’s going on, because levels end in a flash, and everything is awash in vibrant chaos. Even just the intro screen, where tapping anywhere begins the game, is a perfect sign of the DRM statement of intent: ready or not, here it comes. There’s plenty of nonsensical ramblings in the short screens between levels that sound like they could have been written by Jeff Minter.

The game is not indecipherable, though: it just requires the player to keep a keen eye on what’s going on, and to accept that not being ready could mean instant death. The levels are not random, so learning where enemies come from, and where the Space Tiffins, a powerup that grants increased firepower for the rest of the level, are key for high scores. Well, there’s little metagaming of scores at all, with just the player’s personal best listed ar the top of the screen, and high scores are really just the number of levels played plus the number of Space Tiffins collected, so Game Center may be a bit unnecessary, really. Or it would just be full of the same scores over and over again.

But really, the thing to love about DRM is that it just does not mess around. A new game can be started within a couple seconds of launching the app. There’s no extraneous BS here, it’s just the game, and the player that has at it. It’s remarkably different from the direction the rest of the App Store has taken, and it’s worthy for the way it and its creator have stood tall in making it. But beyond that the game is perfect for pick up and play, and has plenty of satisfying fast-paced action and insanity to be definitely worth checking out.

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