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Developer: JapJap Development
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS

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

SpaceArena is the first game to hit the App Store from small, independent developers JapJap Development — who’ve developed this title to be ‘a classic arcade style space shooter’. And as the screenshots show, that’s certainly what it looks like at first glance.

When you get into the gameplay, however, it’s actually a little different to what you might expect. Rather than the emphasis being on shooting, as one might expect from ‘a shooter’, the object of the game is more about collecting. Throughout each level there are a number of blue gems atop the deep space backdrop, the task is to fly around in the little spaceship, collect all the gems and exit the level through a gate before time runs out. There are obstacles and enemies that can be shot, of course, but I soon found that wasting anytime attempting to do such things usually led to the clock reaching zero.

But the unfortunate thing about SpaceArena is its repetitive nature — backgrounds never change, powerups often feel of little or no use and little seems to be added to change things up throughout. The difficulty curve is a little off he mark also, and I actually found the game becoming easier rather than more difficult. This is all a big shame, because Andrei has done some things very well. In particular, the on-screen controls are great. Thumbsticks appear right beneath a player’s finger, and there’s a nice option in there to choose between having the the shoot button on the left of the screen with the directional controls on the right or vice versa. I also love the basic concept, art-stlye and the nice arcade-like background music.

However, at the end of the day, inexperience ultimately shines through. While the mechanics are there and all work as they should, there’s a deeper level of game design that’s not on display here — but hey, credit where credit is due and all, for a first attempt they’ve done a grand job. I feel that with a few tweaks here and there, it could be a massive amount of fun to play — adding things such as online leaderboards and an adjustment to the difficulty level would be a great start. But as it stands, SpaceArena remains somewhat of an average affair.

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