Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Cat-In-A-Box Games claims that their newest app, Fastar!, "is an Action RPG for when you just don’t have time for an Action RPG". After a few hours of play, their claim is absolutely confirmed. The whole game seems like a rush, from killing the enemies to upgrading your stats... and the end result is surprisingly good.
In all reality, Fastar! can only loosely be called an RPG. There's no story to guide the action and no characters that you need to worry about, only the ability to upgrade your attack and defense stats with money that the dead squares drop. The way the game plays is more along the lines of a side scrolling action game, just with a simplified system of movement.
Instead of using a complex control scheme, there are only four things that you can do in Fastar!, move forward/backwards with either the accelerometer or the D-Pad, attack with your sword by tapping on the screen, cast a spell by tapping on the spell icon, and upgrading your stats, also done by tapping on the icon.
The goal of the game is to get to the end of the level as fast as humanly possible, fighting off an army of colored squares along the way. The colored squares hurt you simply by touching you, and all have unique attack patterns, so you must tread carefully so you won't run into one. Like all good action games, you have to kill the squares with a combination of sword slashes (button mashing) and spells. You are only given one spell per level (except for the Battlemage game type), and can only use it a certain number of times. The spells range from a lightning bolt that momentarily stuns the enemies to a one time only blast that causes instant death.
Since everything happens so fast, my main concern was burnout. How many times can you play the same quest before it gets old? Thankfully, there are 24 different level types ranging from the normal quest to more specialty levels like "Goliath" and "Profit". The levels all have their own gameplay parameters, most require just pure speed to get to the end, but some require you to collect money and other various tasks.
To keep things fresh, each level has its own online leaderboard. I'm reviewing the game before the official release so I'm on the top of a few of them (CTH), but I'm assuming that all of my records will be broken at launch.
Unlike many side scrolling action games on the iPhone, I really enjoyed my time with Fastar!. It's challenging, requires a surprising amount of thought, and most importantly, is fast. Pick it up for some great action, just don't go in thinking that you are playing the next Final Fantasy.