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Developer: Retro Dreamer
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Velocispider is not the latest low-budget Saturday night sci-fi movie; this game about a creature that is half-spider, half-velociraptor with a powerful cannon on its head is actually a retro-inspired shmup in the vein of Space Invaders and Galaga. An evil CEO wants the tasty eggs of the endangered velocispider, and he is willing to send waves of aquatic robot hybrids to kill the defensive velocispider and steal the eggs. The player tilts the iOS device from side to side to move the velocispider left and right, with an auto-firing cannon and a charge cannon activated by holding down on the screen. Enemies also drop power ups like triple cannons and rapid fire to help in the egg defense effort. The game ends when the velocispider runs out of health, or if all 3 eggs are captured. There are 20 levels in the game, and the game can be resumed from any wave.

What makes Velocispider so much fun beyond just the concept alone is its simple, addictive gameplay. This is a game that is just fun to play, and getting powerups to decimate the enemies is just so satisfying. It helps that the game shows a leaderboard of the top 5 Game Center friends’ scores; this adds a layer of meta-competition that drove me to play the game even further just to beat my friends’ scores. The pixel graphics are colorful and detailed, the chiptune track from Whitaker Blackall that accompanies the game is energetic, and it’s a universal app to boot!

Velocispider is just a bit lacking on content – it doesn’t take long to beat all 20 waves, so the replay value comes from high scores, generally by starting from wave 1 and trying to last as long as possible from there. Having more waves or different difficulty modes could help. What the game really needs is some form of endless mode, to really make going back for high scores worth it. The game also needs to splash the help page before the first play, because I beat the game on my first playthrough without being aware of the charge laser at all; it’s useful against vertical stacks of enemies, and the game could make players more aware of the ability. Touch-based controls would be a useful option to have as well, although the tilt controls are never a problem.

Velocispider is a bit lacking in content, but not in fun. What started out as a fun game jam idea has turned into a great little retro arcade game for the App Store. The game is definitely worth $0.99 as is, but more waves or an endless mode would be great additions.

Update: The game now supports the iCade in version 1.2, along with additional Game Center achievements.

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