Developer: Studio Evil
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Fans of retro-style shoot ’em ups with modern twists ought to check out Syder Arcade. Studio Evil’s debut title, a Defender and Amiga-era pastiche (as discussed recently on The Portable Podcast), strikes just the right nerve as a solid shooter.

Like all good shoot ’em ups, the player has plenty of opportunities to shoot alien spacecraft, because that’s just fun. Players start by choosing a ship from one of three choices with differing weapons and statistics. The battlefield is two-dimensional and free-scrolling, where players can flip the direction they face. Players have a health bar, and can charge up a special attack by taking out enemies and picking up powerups. Boss enemies occasionally come by that need to be destroyed, which is where the special attacks come in handy! Well, that and the numerous enemy fleets, the special attacks help with those too.

There’s a campaign mode to go along with a survival mode, though the ultimate goal in each is simply to blow up enemies before getting blown up, though campaign levels occasionally have targets to protect. But hey, the best defense is a good offense, namely destroying all ships that come in. And that’s the fun of the game: blasting everything and watching the colorful explosions.

The graphics for the game are well done, though amongst all the noise and chaos it can be easy to lose track of the player’s ship. The iPhone’s virtual joystick is small and has a small activation area, which is tricky to use.

It’s hard for me to say anything too bad about the game, nor anything that’s especially effusive in praise. Syder Arcade just exists as it is, a retro-styled shoot ’em up that wants to let players destroy waves of enemies, unleash special abilities, and just have some mindless fun for a little while. That’s perfectly fine! It’s not a game of the year candidate, but it’s something those who download it and check it out will enjoy.

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