Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPhone 5
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Everplay Games is starting a new series of “Retro Revival” games with quick turnaround times that use retro-style graphics and themes in new iOS experiences. The first of these games, Rock Blocker, is a great start for this series.
Rock Blocker’s setup is quite unique: it’s a combination of free-scrolling and an arena shooter. It takes plce in portrait mode and by default enemies come from above. But as waves are completed, enemies will start to come in from the bottom and sides at random. Thus, the player has the ability to move and shoot 360 degrees, which comes in handy, and there’s powerups that shoot out the front and back of the ship, Bosconian-style. The game has two control schemes: tilt controls with the ability to direct fire to a certain location by tapping in a direction to lock fire there, and dual sticks. The dual sticks are my preferred control scheme on iPad, but on iPhone I found them a bit cramped, so I use the tilt controls on there.
The game launched at free, but went up to $0.99, which is a wise move because the game has quite enough content to be worth actually spending money on it outright, though impatient players can buy their way to a fully-armed and operational rock blocker right away. Still, the game has a nice progression curve to it even for playing for free. I recommend going back and starting from earlier waves on occasion; the rocks can be hard to destroy initially, but with more powerful weapons they can be more easily taken out, and destroying a bunch of them is an easy way to earn credits quickly.
Later on, the game can get rather chaotic, and sometimes it can be difficult to detect where enemies and shots are coming from, but thanks to the upgrade system, everything feels eventually manageable. The graphics are pretty minimalistic but have a raster effect on them to feel like playing an old arcade machine.
The game’s biggest standout feature might actually be the single-device multiplayer, available on both iPhone and iPad (it gets cramped on the former, as one might imagine). There’s a co-op mode where players fight together to complete missions as quickly as possible, and competitive modes that eventually unlock. It’s not a mandatory part of the game, but it’s worth it for friends to pick up and check out together.
Rock Blocker is a ton of fun. It’s got a great combination of intense action, solid controls, and plenty of replay value to justify coming back to it. Based on this and what I've played of 1001 Attempts, this Retro Revival series shows some real promise.