Tag: Arcade shooter »
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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It never ceases to amaze me just how much a couple of added mechanics can make a game stand out in its genre. Of course it's more than a simple matter of shoehorning a feature or two into the formula; there has to be some sort of balance. That, and they need to compliment each other. And I have to admit, I never would've expected Space Bits' odd pairing of SHMUP and Roguelike to work as well as it does. I mean it's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's got a fair amount of potential.
Both of the key aspects of Space Bits have been simplified a bit. Permadeath, an expected trait of most Roguelikes, isn't really a thing here. Instead each level is comprised of a series of randomized enemy waves and random loot drops. Fail and it's back to the start of the level, but all experience and items gained along the way remain. So while it's certainly possible to get blown up before completing a stage, it's also easy to farm experience and loot to make trouble spots more survivable. The SHMUP elements are also less intense. The usual drag-to-move and auto-shooting controls are present, of course. But while enemy types are reasonably varied, they only ever move horizontally; which makes for some incredibly basic patterns. It's the random combination of enemy types that makes the game the least bit challenging.
I'm honestly impressed by how well the Roguelike elements in Space Bits combine with the shooting. There are plenty of weapons and ship frames to find and utilize, and they only get more powerful the further players go. First it's all about attack and defense but soon they'll be equipping weapons that steal health or ship bodies that reflect damage. It's also incredibly handy how the action will pause automatically as soon as I lift my finger off the screen. It makes scooping up new gear and distributing stat points after gaining a level totally painless.
However, as cool as the the odd combination of SHMUP and Roguelike is, it's not enough to mask Space Bits' shortcomings. As I've said, enemy attack patterns are random and incredibly basic. This means that one might be ridiculously easy while another could make avoiding damage literally impossible due to the random spacing of enemy shots. I also encountered what I believe to be a bug that resulted in my ship's defense multiplying significantly with each level-up. By the end the value was so high (400+) I was able to fight second zone's boss without taking any damage at all.
Space Bits is a cool idea, but it's not a fully realized one. As-is it's a decent amount of quick pick-up-and-play fun but it feels unpolished in some places and unfinished in others. It has a remarkable amount of potential, though.
Whenever zombies and/or mutants have overrun the Earth, iOS gamers are always more than happy to take to the streets and start blasting. However, they haven't had many opportunities to do so with friends. That's why James Petty, president of Action Mobile Games, and the rest of the development team have been working on 2013: Infected Wars. They're hoping to push the limits of what iOS gamers have come to expect from their action games, and James was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions about their soon-to-be-released project.
148Apps: What made you decide to create a co-op action game as opposed to a more typical single player affair?
James Petty (JP): There were a few reasons for that. One, it has never been done before on mobile so I wanted us to do something new and fun to try and stand out. Two, I thought it would be really well received by the community since playing multiplayer is always more fun. Three, because it is so difficult to pull off; my hope was Apple would feature us in the App Store at release.
148Apps: I was also wondering just how big the environments might be. Are there multiple paths to explore?
JP: They are not as big as some of the huge PC or console hits that many of us are familiar with. There are different paths you can take to some extent but we had to be creative to allow for the large number of creatures spawned at any given time. I wanted to make sure the player felt like the world was covered with infected. Most people probably don't notice, but on mobile each unique creature takes a ton of resources which is why many games with higher end graphics will cap them at 3 or so. This wouldn't work at all if we wanted to create hordes of enemies. So we were able to optimize the Unreal Engine to such an extent that we can have around 10 at any given time and have some amazing graphics to boot. With our custom spawn system you often don't even notice the cap as we can have another enemy spawn as soon as one dies to really give you the feeling of an enemy 'horde'.
148Apps: It looks like there’s a good mix of classes available (Field Support, Marine, Sniper, Sapper). Do you find that some compliment others better, and was it tough to balance them out?
JP: Yes, this was extremely tough to balance out. It would have been easy to just get rid of the classes and have a bunch of weapons but I think that removes some of the depth you can achieve when you get to choose a strategy and see if it works. The field support in my opinion is the easiest class to master, and I suggest this for any player who isn't as experienced with mobile gaming. The sniper and Sapper are the most challenging and work better in multiplayer.
148Apps: What sort of persistent character progression can we expect in 2013: Infected Wars? Do the characters actually learn skills or become more powerful, or is it more of a rank-based system that unlocks new gear?
JP: There is no gear unlocking in 2013: Infected Wars; instead, the more money you earn from killing infected and the less you die the more money you have. However each class gets benefits with certain weapon types, and as you level up the weapons in that class become more affordable. You also get unique bonuses for each class but there isn't a special move per say. The game is designed to offer fun replayability and you are meant to die. If you challenge players and they realize a mistake is going to cause them to die, lose weapons, and then have to try a mission again it really ups the intensity. I believe the mobile gaming community is really wanting a challenge and I stand 100% by 2013: Infected Wars being the most challenging mobile shooter that will be in the App Store.
148Apps: What would you consider to be 2013: Infected Wars’ most significant feature?
JP: Definitely the fact we have a true full co-op campaign with a ton of content and true hordes of zombies and other infected to kill. And larger than life bosses that actually move around. This has never been done on mobile before and I really hope the community enjoys it. In fact we are already working on our first new content update before the game even hits the App Store.
We'd like to thank James again for taking the time to answer our questions. If you're anxious to get your co-op mutant blasting on, keep an eye out. 2013: Infected Wars should be hitting the App Store within the next couple of weeks and set you back $6.99. Expect a full review from 148Apps when it does!
I do love a good SHMUP, and a classic old-school style SHMUP with hand-painted visuals appeals to me even more. It probably appeals to a lot of people, actually, which might have something to do with why publisher Lace Mamba Global and developer Firepixels is bringing Solar Wings to the App Store.
Players will get to blow up all manner of fancy-looking enemy ships as they fight their way through five different worlds. Each with a collection of tough/large bosses and vessels. Power-ups are on hand, naturally, as well as a total of three selectable characters with their own personal ships, although the third character needs to be unlocked before they can be used. And it’s all depicted in that colorful hand-painted style I mentioned. Sounds tasty, right?
Solar Wings should be sitting pretty on the App Store come Saturday, July 28th. Any SHMUP fans can nab it for a very reasonable $0.99, assuming there’s no accident with the listing like there was for the game’s Desura release.
*Note: Images are from the PC version*