Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Oh, the days of the NES. This was a time when the tough-as-nails run 'n gun games were all the rage - large men with larger guns and names like "Mad Dog" and "Scorpion" ran around and shot aliens and general ne'er-do-wells across time and space. Sadly, despite the occasional Metal Slug game popping up, there just hasn't been much in the way of wanton running and gunning in two dimensions. Glitchsoft, previously known for Destructopus, is trying to bring the genre back with Star Marine: Infinite Ammo.
The game's scenario? Man, guns, spaceship, aliens, blah blah blah, this is not about the story, this is about the action! 2D, running and gunning, shooting everything that moves as well as inanimate objects because sometimes they can be destroyed as well! The game has a control feature that I have begged for in run 'n gun games since dual analog sticks became a thing - multi-directional firing. Moving the virtual joystick on the right fires in 8 directions, independent of the left movement controls. Because this is space, it's possible to float in midair, descending slowly to the ground, killing things whilst gravity has only a slight pull. As well, there are bombs, multiple weapons (including a devastating and nostalgia-inducing spread gun), and of course, big bosses to fight. At its core, this is good old-fashioned action with plenty of thematically-appropriate pixel art to boot. Intriguing survival levels are also unlockable, where players fight against enemies, and race to pads that can replenish the steadily-decreasing timer, all in the name of high scores...and gems, the buggaboo of this game.
See, Star Marine: Infinite Ammo is a 2012 game, and it is quite poised to push in-app purchases. Gems can be earned by getting points in the game, and while they can be used to unlock weapons and upgrades, they can also be used on consumable items that can go very quickly, like bombs, wings that make bottomless pits just minor annoyances instead of instant death, and extra lives. Yes, extra lives are a consumable IAP in the game. If players die and run out, they have to buy extra lives to start off with, and these are not permanent unlocks, they are temporary. Once they're gone, they're gone. Remember when we got 3 lives per continue, or 30 if we were savvy enough? Heck, even Contra 3 tossed out an occasional extra bomb or weapon for free, in exchange for the pummeling brutality that it put forth. Star Marine: Infinite Ammo may be more forgiving than ye games of olde, but it's still rather challenging, and the game basically requires grinding levels in order to earn enough gems to buy extra lives and necessary upgrades.
There is a lot that I would change about Star Marine: Infinite Ammo, particularly to make it more in line with the games that inspired it, but what's here is rather intriguing and fun. Flawed, but there is fun to be had.