Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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In Embraceware’s Shuttle Scuttle, aliens are attacking our solar system! Apparently they’re really jealous that we have one of the few life-sustaining planets out there. So, it’s up to one lightly-armed space shuttle in order to ward off the aliens and save not just Earth, but the entire solar system. Sure, Martians may be jerks, but we may need to call on a favor from them someday. Ship controls are intertia-based in the Asteroids style, meaning there’s the ability to spin left and right, and thrust forward to go along with the fire button. The action takes place on a single arena, though it doesn’t wrap around. Enemies come in from all directions, and present different hazards. Some just die, occasionally leaving fuel and shield restoration, but others will freeze and fire shards in diagonal directions after a short delay, or eject a smaller enemy that will cause the ship to go around non-stop as the pilot panics over this little alien enemy. There are a total of 32 levels to challenge the player as they try to destroy the alien menace.
The game really has a great NES feel. It’s got a high level of challenge, though it also has a rudimentary star system that’s straight out of the 21st century. Still, the goal to get 3 stars is simple: rescue all the astronauts and don’t die in the level. The astronauts prove to be a particular problem as they can be accidentally shot, a la Robotron. Inverse Phase’s soundtrack work is fantastic; it sounds like it was composed on an NES, as opposed to being just a “chiptune” soundtrack that many games seem to use. Musical homages to other classic NES games are immediately apparent. Plus, the game supports iCade controls, though the interface is set up with iCade Mobile, where the face buttons are all pause keys.
The physics are somewhat odd to play with; the ship doesn’t feel like it floats quite properly through space, though it stopping sooner than it probably should is probably a good thing for the game’s difficulty, considering the tricky enemies that pop up. The fuel system just seems unfair, because the only way to refill it is through random enemy drops, and that’s the annoying thing: death should feel like it was due to my incompetence, not because I didn’t get a drop.
For fans of the retro style, Shuttle Scuttle should be very appealing, as it sticks very well to its roots as an NES homage, and that consistent style shows. Plus, it’s an entertaining and challening shoot ’em up that should leave players begging for mercy after a while. Don’t shoot the astronauts!