Developer: GIGA-RENSYA
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 2.1.2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Bullet hell shooters on the iDevice certainly require a certain kind of manic personality. Being an old fashioned guy (but not old!), I am more accustomed to the bullet hell shooter that gives you a glimmer of hope. I like to upgrade my weapons, get power-ups, and fight bosses — you know, the normal stuff that you do in video games. This new crop of bullet hell shooters don’t aspire to be beaten though, they just want to be cool.

As a “cool” bullet hell shooter, Techno Trancer does a good job of sucking you in with bright flashes, crazy glowing objects, and a techno beat to keep you moving forward. The screen stimulation overdose has your little ship shooting at masses of enemies flying in patterns shooting red blobs that seem to follow you. When the enemies die, more blobs fly out of them, as well as little gold things (apparently called energy bits) which give you more score and a boost to your “energy bar. Between all the glowing blobs following you, flashing gold things falling, and enemy flight patterns (and their subsequent explosions), you really have no idea what’s going on. The only break you ever get in the game is if you shake the screen, shooting all the red blobs away from you. I have no idea how often you can use it, but I found myself shaking the screen quite often.

With no clue as to what is happening, your best bet is to avoid the red blobs that equal immediate death. Avoiding them is no easy task due to their sheer numbers, but hovering as best you can around the middle of the screen seems to be the key. Once you blow up enough and collect their energy bits, you get a shield of some kind that lasts for what seems to be an arbitrary period of time. There’s just too much going on to really tell.

By the end of a few plays, instead of feeling like a champ I just sat there and wondered what happened. Did I really just play a game or did I download a techno infused light show? I don’t think that there is an ending to the game, and there doesn’t seem to be any bosses, so what’s the point?

The point is that Techno Trancer is the bullet hell version of an endless runner. The whole goal is to play for as long as you possibly can until you die. Maybe this works for some, but the reason the endless runner genre works so well is that you can learn from your mistakes, something that is pretty much out of the question in Techno Trancer. I like the overall style of the game, but the sheer amount of punishment will repel most sensible gamers. It takes a certain type of individual to enjoy a game that offers you no hope.

But man is it cool.

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