Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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OrangePixel have a very consistent style of game: retro-looking, retro-sounding, and retro-playing. The next game to receive the iOS retro treatment? Neoteria. This is a horizontally- scrolling shoot 'em up that recalls the days of R-Type and Gradius. The player's ship is constantly flying forward, and has unlimited ammo to try and destroy their enemies.
However, the game has a couple of modern twists. One, frantically tapping the fire button isn't highly recommended, as the game grants bonuses for accuracy, and star ratings for having high scores on a level. Second, there are branching paths in levels that unlock after the first run of the game is completed.
The gameplay is wonderfully similar to classic genre titles. The graphics are chock-full of blocky pixels, and use a vibrant range of colors, more than many genre titles have been known to use. The soundtrack fits the game well, fitting the driving pace of the game, going on and on until success is achieved. Well, it fits until it gets repetitive, and the lack of menu music there makes it feel barren.
The upgrade system from INC has been co-opted for Neoteria, but in a very tweaked fashion. Is grinding earlier levels to fill up the power bar still necessary? Yes, but dying is less of a penalty, and it's easier to fill that power bar up. This feels much more like how it should work. OpenFeint cloud saves are here as they were in INC; while it takes about a minute to synchronize on launch, progress is automatically updated, and it appears to be non-destructive, in that it will only improve on existing progress, and upgrade weapons automaically after synchronization.
The real fun of Neoteria comes when playing with the iCade. Using a real joystick and buttons feels much better than it does to tap a virtual button rapidly. In fact, things just become a lot more difficult when not playing with physical controls, or even via Joypad. It's not just that it's easier to rapid-fire with physical feedback, but the virtual controls are just nowhere as responsive, especially the virtual joystick for 360-degree movement. Just moving vertically as provided in the default control scheme makes it harder to dodge.
So, for touchscreens I say to be cautious – the degree of difficulty is much higher when playing Neoteria with no physical controls. It's playable but much less fun. For iCade and compatible controller owners, definitely check this one out, it's a ton of fun. It will do to the bottom right white button what Velocispider did to the top left red one. Which is to break it in from rapidly mashing on it. Or, possibly just break it.