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Developer: Ringzero Game Studio
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s tough to make mafia protection rackets seem almost cute to look at. Mafiatown goes some way to achieving that though, presumably due to developer Ringzero Game Studio’s experience with games for younger players. Underneath that cutesy surface is a familiar twin-stick shooter.

Players take the role of a young man with more than a passing resemblance to Tom Cruise as he wanders around the local area, protecting the nearby shopkeepers from the menace of the mafia. Comfortable controls consisting of one thumb dictating movement and the other offering firepower, makes Mafiatown an easy game to adapt to.

Gameplay consists of circling a medium sized arena, tracking down the red dots that lead to mafia goons intent on destruction. The levels are relatively brief making them ideal bite sized doses throughout the day while still feeling a sense of progression. These goons change in terms of size and force but the basic principle behind defeating them is the same – hammer that right thumb button.

Weaponry changes as the game progresses with the ability to upgrade from humble fists to the baseball bat, right up to some pretty fearsome machine guns. It’s a gradual process but one that keeps things interesting. Different tactics do apply to an extent due to the long range capabilities of such weapons. Other bonuses such as bulletproof vests can also be purchased and upgraded with money accrued from protecting shops.

Besides the conventional arcade mode, there’s a vendetta mode focused on wiping out the mafia rather than worrying about protecting shops. It’s the same kind of fun really, just with a minor twist.

Unfortunately, Mafiatown suffers from some floaty controls. Moving around the arenas isn’t as easy nor as responsive as it should be with the player frequently being stuck in an awkward direction. There is a button to flip the player around but it only goes a small way to solving the problem. Multi directional controls for the left thumb would have worked much more effectively than this one button which turns frustrating quickly.

Mafiatown is a fun little game, if a little forgettable. The addition of Game Center or OpenFeint support would have gone a long way to providing extra reason to work at better high scores after each stage. As it stands, Mafiatown is a decent distraction but one that may be a little too shallow for any great length of time.

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