Developer: Tiny Titan Studios
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

The gigantic ominous starship bristling with cannons and weapon emplacements is a staple of pretty much every sci-fi movie or anime taking place in outer space. When the sky is abuzz with small, sleek fighter craft, we generally don’t pay much mind to those massive artillery batteries blasting impotently into the void in the hopes of picking off enemies with a lucky shot or two. Do we even give a spare thought to the hapless gunner stationed there before that kamikaze rebel/space pirate/drone fighter plows through through his workplace in a desperate suicide run? Well maybe after a couple of rounds of Starship Turret Operator Guy we might start.

Starship Turret Operator GuyStarship Turret Operator GuyStarship Turret Operator Guy (one of the better game names in recent memory) is a quirky kind of hybrid. It has the upgrading and survival elements of tower defense, but without the lanes or multiple emplacements of weaponry. Visually, it resembles a top-down space shoot-em-up, but a large number of the “enemies” faced are non-aggressive rocks and other space debris. A blip in the PR material referred to it as an “endless shooter” and I feel that this label is probably the most appropriate.

The game’s early waves consist of small chunks of rock and other junk, gradually getting larger and eventually being interspersed with waves of enemy fighters. Cash earned is used to upgrade a wide variety of attributes from repair speed, to critical hit damage, to allowing shots to travel through targets, and eventually even auto-firing side turrets that assist in the player’s defense with mines, rockets, or lasers. There are so many options on offer that it can be a bit overwhelming at first to decide what paths one should upgrade first.

Starship Turret Operator GuyStarship Turret Operator GuyMy first couple of passes through Starship Turret Operator Guy left me feeling somewhat nonplussed and I was just about to write it off as nothing special. But then, unexpectedly, something clicked on the next playthrough and suddenly the whole experience felt a lot more fun and engaging. I think it may have had a lot to do with the fact that I totally reconsidered my path through the upgrades, which allowed me quickly gain enough power to keep pace with the steadily increasing waves. Before long I caught myself holding my breath as I white-knuckled my iPad, my right index finger a speedy, tapping blur.

My only minor quibble is in the disconnect between the game’s cartoony menu/intro style and the more “serious” look of the actual game. It feels a bit disjointed, which is unfortunate. I also would have loved to have seen them do more things with the characters in-game. Some Starfox-style pop-ups of the ship’s commanding officers warning of an incoming wave of enemy fighters, or maybe verbally reprimanding the player when his negligence leads to valuable starship systems being damaged?

There were a lot of missed opportunities to inject a lot of humor into a game that already seems to embrace the ridiculous. Still, Starship Turret Operator Guy remains a fun, simple distraction for score chasers and fans of anything endless or spacey.


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