iOS devices have become home to games ranging from adapted classics to fresh ideas. The platform is still in its infancy as developers learn to maximize and compensate for the quirks of gaming on devices with no buttons. Unfortunately, there are just some genres that simply cannot work on a touchscreen device. Space Shooter for Free is, unfortunately, an example of why bullet hell games do not fit the platform.
The game was originally launched as a Playstation Mini as A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks and enjoyed great success. The game features two sets of 8 levels and countless enemy ships to destroy. As you progress, you’ll gather power-ups that amp up your regular gun, fire missles and fireworks, slow down enemies and add a life-saving shield. You’ll also gather remnants, which serve as the game’s currency. You can also pay real money, via in-app purchases, to unlock advanced weaponry.
Taking a page out of Mega Man’s book, you can choose to tackle the available 8 levels in any order. Defeating a boss nets you their signature weapon for use in future battles. These include black holes and freeze bombs that will tip the battle in your favor. It’s a system that works and makes beating a level all the more satisfying. You also have an Overdrive meter that works as a smart bomb. Once it’s charged, you can tap the meter to blow up anything in the vicinity.
In addition to the campaign, which features four difficulty levels, there is a survival mode that tests your reflexes.
The game looks and sounds great. The voiced lines are full of comical bravado that provide more personality than many others in the genre. The sound effects work and the graphical stylings contribute to the atmosphere. The pictures of Commander P. Jefferson’s dog and the fuzzy dice are amusing.
Unfortunately, all of the solid presentation can’t save the game from the control scheme. In order to play, you use your finger to move your ship around the screen. You automatically fire straight ahead as you move. Bullet hell games require that you avoid bullets. You can’t avoid what you can’t see, and your finger will obscure incoming projectiles. The game would be fantastic if fingers were transparent, but I constantly found myself trying to peek around my finger to spot rapidly moving bullets. It didn’t work. I quickly became frustrated, not by the game, but by the device.
I reviewed the game on an iPhone 4 and, to be fair, it might work much better on an iPad. Regardless, the game is free to download and very inexpensive to unlock the content behind the pay wall. It’s worth a try, especially if you game on an iPad. With zero risk and solid presentation, it’s not hard to recommend at least giving A Space Shooter for Free a try. Just be aware of the touch screen’s limitations.
Review copy provided by publisher.