App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Miners are in trouble, they need evac, blah blah blah. As with any arcade-centric game these days, Gyro13 - Steam Copter Arcade HD (see? It even has "arcade" in the title!) puts forth a decent effort to tie events together with a plot but it's entirely unnecessary. People don't play games like this because they care about the bad guy's motives or whether or not the good guy saves the love interest. They play games like this simply because they're fun.
With the setup out of the way, let's get into the particulars. Gyro13 is every bit a classic "corridor flyer" with a super-charged graphical update. Gameplay is all about knowing when to tap, hold and let go of the button for lift, while using a slider to adjust the helicopter's angle. Then guiding the chopper through an increasingly difficult (and narrow) gauntlet of tunnels. However, rather than shooting for the high score on an endless run, the game is divided into actual levels with a definitive start and finish. The layout of each stage is always the same, but they're timed. Simply beating the level isn't enough, either. In order for it to count, it must be cleared within the limit. Preferably with all of the level's stranded miners tucked safely in the cargo hold.
Early levels are very straight forward, with little to impede progress or top rankings except grievous player error. After the first five or so, things get much more interesting. Soon players will be deftly guiding their gyro through incredibly tight spaces, neutralizing gas pockets, swooping in to pick up miners and squeaking by moving machinery (this is a functional mine, after all). All while the clock keeps ticking. It creates a very tense but rewarding cycle of trial-and-error flying followed by repeated attempts to nab the best score possible. Plus it's pretty.
Although, a part of what makes Gyro13 so entertaining can also drag the experience down. I'm talking about the difficulty. This is not an easy game. There's little room for error, but even the most delicate hands won't help if that copter doesn't get through fast enough. Checkpoints help, but each subsequent restart means a few more precious seconds have been wasted. A pause feature also would've been nice, since having to essentially botch a run on purpose every time the A Train doors open isn't exactly fun.
Even so, I've been enjoying Gyro13 quite a bit. It's more involved than a typical corridor flyer, looks great, plays well and is absolutely loaded with challenge. The price might look a bit scary, but I think fans of this kind of game will get their money's worth here.