Dragon Flight (iOS)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

I've been playing a few games on my iPhone lately.  That makes a bit of a change... with the exception of The Bard's Tale, there's been very little to catch my imagination in the last month or two.

Fortunately, people on my Twitter feed, Rev. Stu Campbell in particular, will often champion the cause of a gaming underdog.  And as they're usually either cheap or free, I'm more than willing to give them a try.

It's all happening here.  Look out for that flaming rock!
The first one I had a go at was Dragon Flight.  If you were to just look at the screenshots, you could be forgiven for thinking it's a bullet-hell type shoot 'em up, and as Cave has more or less cornered that market, you could also be forgiven for passing it up.  But Dragon Flight is not what you might think...

That sounds very cryptic, so let me explain.  Dragon Flight is an "endless runner" style of game, where the object is to get as far as possible.  Yeah, I know, yet another one.  But this one is a bit more interesting, enjoyable and addictive than the majority of them.

Cutting a swathe through enemy dragons.
Dragon Flight sees you sitting atop a dragon, your girly pink hair flowing in the breeze, flying upwards and spitting fire.  Yes, it's a vertically-scrolling shooter as well as an endless runner.  Lines of enemy critters stream down at you, and you need to blast a gap in the line that's big enough for you to pass through.   As long as you're able to do that, you should be OK.

It's never that easy, though, and some of the enemies are fairly resistant to your firepower.  It's up to you to spot these as quickly as possible, so that you can manoeuvre to a position that will see you through.  This is certainly enough of an obstacle to make things difficult.

Destroyed dragons leave a shower of gold coins!

That said, there are ways to make things easier.  Shooting any of the enemies will see them releasing items for you to pick up.  The standard items are gold coins... the more of these you pick up, the better, as you can spend them in the shop and permanently upgrade your firepower.  Other items available include valuable gems and one-use items, such as a limited-time dual shot or "hyper flight", which sees you roaring through the enemies at high speed for a few seconds, despatching anything which stands in your way.

I might be getting better, but it doesn't mean I'm any good...

There are two different scores to chase... furthest distance, and highest score.  You can consciously go for one or the other while you're playing... furthest distance is easier to go for, obviously.  But to entice you into going for a higher score, the game has a very well thought-out risk/reward element.  Much like many modern shooters, you score more points for shooting enemies when they're closer to you.  This is a dangerous way of playing, but when you know you can earn many times a "normal" score, it's very tempting to give it a go, and the game helpfully puts a health bar over stronger enemies to help you judge what you're doing.

Dragon Flight is very entertaining and has that crucial "one more go" factor.  If it weren't for the fact it's sharing time with two other iOS games I've also downloaded this week, I'd probably never be off it.  As it is, it's a great little timewaster, and it's free!  Unless you've got absolutely no room left on your iThing, you've got no excuse for not downloading this, at all.

Dragon Flight is FREE on iTunes!

Ziggurat (iOS)

by PaulEMoz in , , ,

Well, shit.

We've spent years fending off alien invasions. Sometimes, we've even gone seeking the bastards out, destroying them before they've had the chance to get to us. Call those ones "pre-emptive attacks". We've done whatever has been necessary to ensure the continuation of the human race.

But it's all been for nothing. It all ends here.


And where is "here", exactly? It's on the very highest point of a ziggurat, an ancient temple complex. Basically, you've scarpered up here to take the high ground, in the hope of taking out all the alien attackers.

It's futile, of course. Sheer weight of numbers means you'll be overpowered and killed. It's inevitable. It's happened to everyone else on the planet...

Die, alien scum! I might have said that before.

And so, the scene is set for Ziggurat, an iOS game of immense simplicity. But I like simple. There are times when simple fits the bill just nicely,

You can't move in Ziggurat. Instead, you slide your finger left and right along the bottom of the screen to aim your gun at the incoming hordes. And then you let go, and let 'em have it. And that's it. You do that until you die.

Now that's what I call a close encounter. What?

Like I said, simple. And therein lies its beauty. It's a perfect little time-killer. At first, you won't last long at all, as the initial confusion over how the control method works sees you die stupidly. But it doesn't take long to get the hang of it, and then you might actually last a few minutes (I'm averaging eighty seconds per go at the moment).

You're not really supposed to last much longer than that. You're obviously good, if you're the last surviving human, but you're not that good. They're gonna get ya, simple as that. All you can do is take out as many as you can, in the hope of putting up a number that will impress your friends. I reckon over a hundred is a job well done. Over five hundred would be extraordinary... nobody's cracked a thousand yet...

R.I.P. The Human Race: 50,000BP - 2012.

I think that Ziggurat is well priced at 69p. There's not really much to it... it's got about as much depth as the endless runner games. But it's also about as much fun as they are, and although it's best suited to short bursts, there's still a good chance you'll keep hitting restart for one more go...

Ready Steady Bang (iOS)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

It's a funny old world, the iOS game/app market. Seemingly innocuous little games can become blockbuster gaming juggernauts, crushing all in their path with their simplistic, easy-to-grasp concepts. And yet, others which are similarly polished and possibly even more fun can fall by the wayside, looking terribly forlorn when you check your Game Center leaderboard and find you're "#23 of 978". There are 250 million+ iOS owners out there... surely every app should be picked up by more than 978 by default?

Come on, old-timer. Put that thing away.

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to give a shout out to a few iOS games that might not get as many mentions as the behemoths that have become part of pop culture. They might not have the profile, but they're irrefutably enjoyable, and all for less than the price of a Mastertronic budget game. And the first game I'd like to pimp to the "masses" is a terribly simple affair called Ready Steady Bang.

If you've ever wanted to be a cowboy or a sheriff in the Wild West, dispensing bullets one at a time in a life-or-death draw against a deadly foe, then Ready Steady Bang is the game for you. What? You question me?

No? Well, if you insist...

Ooohhh, alright... it's a reaction test. In the single player game you take on ten increasingly dead-eyed opponents. You shouldn't have many problems against the first or second, but once you start moving on you'll encounter goes that even The Waco Kid would have trouble dispatching.

That's all well and good, and it's great fun going up against these daftly-named adversaries. It's very satisfying to see your slightly-bigger-than-a-stick-man opponent fall to the ground, clutching his chest after you've beaten him to the draw. And the over-the-top winner's screen is great, displaying your average reaction time in huge numbers. But it's the two-player mode where this game really comes into its own.

Yee-haw! Take that, pardner!

Beating your mates is always fun, but never more so than when defeat comes in an instant. In the last couple of weeks, I've played Ready Steady Bang down the pub a couple of times with mates, and it's an instant winner. Just ramp up the sound on your iDevice, plonk it in the middle of the table with a mate sitting opposite, and away you go. It's like a two-player version of the shootout at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The pair of you sit there, hunched at opposite ends of the table, fingers hovering and twitching above the screen... the announcer shouts out "Ready.... Steady.............. Bang!" Your fingers race to be the first to tap the screen. The loser falls, a broken and defeated man. The winner jumps for joy, being careful not to spill his pint over the iPhone...

Quick Draw McMoz prevails again!

It's fantastic. You could actually imagine this being an arcade cocktail table in a bar. It could rake in a fortune. Everybody has that competitive edge, and playing Ready Steady Bang amongst mates really brings that out. I love this game, and I've brought in a few sales purely on the evidence of a quick session at the bar. For 69p, it's a little gem that should be impossible to refuse.

Ready Steady Bang at the iTunes App Store