Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Jeff Minter and his Llamasoft studio make games that are simultaneously inspired by games of yore and yet still so original. Such is the case with Super Ox Wars. This is a vertically-scrolling shmup inspired by titles like Xevious and other "bullet hell" games. The backstory of the game is explained in detail here on Jeff Minter’s website, but it’s inspired by the Amazonian Ox-Dance Festival in a small Brazilian town that involves two oxen. Players ‘choose’ which side they support based on the colored icons they collect. Of course, there’s still bullets and enemies coming from every which way to worry about, and that’s ultimately what’s most important: surviving the onslaught!
Players can choose whether to support the blue Caprichoso or red Garantido, or players can choose not to decide and just shoot everything in their sights, though they still have made a choice. I will choose freewill. The game tracks the number of icons for each side that has been collected over time, and there are achievements for kicking support for one side up to a sufficiently high level. However, the choice players make will influence the way they play the game as well as how the levels will play out for them. It’s a small element, but it’s a just a unique way to play through. The controls are great, with enough of an offset to not block the screen when sliding around with a thumb. And, of course, the game has iCade support. It’s universal, with Game Center support for leaderboards and for the devilish achievements. There's the ability to start from any completed level with the same lives and score, and performing better on a later playthrough will improve that saved progress.
Jeff Minter has built a reputation for making games that have a unique voice with a history behind them that other games just don’t make apparent. Yes, Super Ox Wars is like other Llamasoft games - it can often be so chaotic that it’s hard to tell what’s going on, but that’s become par for the course. Fans of Minter’s work will be happy with this game, and those that just love arcade shooters will find plenty of endearing elements. Caprichoso for life!