Phones are so last year. With a new iPad in hand, there is now a whole new world of games to explore.
Complex gadgets for simple games
Just because I like old arcade-style games doesn’t mean I sit at home all day and play my NES and Atari. Far from it. I’ll play games on whatever technology I have and recently I got an iPad and with it a whole new frontier of gaming. We all know mobile devices “are the future” and that Apple leads the way with its iOS platform. Sure, there might be more Androids out there in the world but all the apps start on iOS and prior to getting my iPad I was part of the app-envy crowd with my lowly Droid. I shall weep no more.
Of course, just because I have the latest gadget doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and find the arcade-style games I love to play, and I’m not just talking about the classic games like Pac-Man, Defender and Galaga. Sure, those games are great but you can find those everywhere we all have 10 copies of those games ready to play at the drop of a hat. So with an iPad in my lap I spent some time looking for games that good and fun, and I found a few that may not have popped up on your radar before.
The Last Rocket
The game I bought was The Last Rocket, a great retro-style puzzle game where you have to try and help the last rocket collect all the gears to repair the mothership before it falls into some sort of black hole. I have to say that the reason I purchase The Last Rocket wasn’t only because it looked all fun and pixels. Prior to even getting my iPad, I read the diary written by the developer, Shaun Inman. I read the book because I’m a developer that loves reading about other developer’s stories of heartbreak and success. I got the book without any plans on buying the game but once my tablet was here, I ponied up the $3 and dove write in.
The Last Rocket looks, feels, sounds and plays like a Gameboy-era game. It’s cute, vivid and deceivingly challenging. The challenge in The Last Rocket getting your fingers to tap and just the right time. You have to shoot your rocket between walls dodging flames, mines and spikes while collecting coins…er, gears…in an effort to save the day. The game starts off a little slow but give the timing challenge required here, it’s good to have a slight learning curve. However, the game can get really hard pretty fast but it’s far from impossible. The Last Rocket is one of those games that has a good balance of frustration and reward. It’s a solo game so you can only curse your slow fingers when the little rocket goes boom, but then once you nail the jumps and keep your guy alive, you feel like a champ.
If you’re looking for a quick puzzle game that will make smile in between shakes of your fist, The Last Rocket does a great job. It’s also worth noting that Shaun Inman has a couple other iOS games out there, particularly Chunks and Horror Vacui 2 that are also wonderful retro-style puzzle games that keep your fingers moving.
There’s certainly no shortage of arcade shooters in the App Store. There’s a game for every type of shmupper. If you want your bullet hell challenges you can check out the great (yet expensive) Cave shooters, but as much as I like insane bullet action, on the iPad I’m looking for something a little more passive and that’s where Pixel Attack comes in.
Pixel Attack looks about as basic of a shooter as you can get with big fat pixels taking the role of your spaceship and of the numerous bad guys. The bullet patterns aren’t incredibly difficult to overcome yet somehow I have yet to complete the game. Power-ups are plentiful and the controls are wonderful to use. It does take a while to get used to the motion of your ship and the speed, but once you get in the groove you’ll be rolling over bad guys left and right.
Pixel Attack comes with three game modes that include the standard Campaign mode, Survival mode and Missile mode. The non-Campaign modes are just spins on the same formula that aren’t particularly impressive but it is another chance to get your name on the Game Center leaderboards. I should also note that the giant “Upgrade” button the Pixel Attack main menu is NOT for purchasing the game, it’s actually for upgrading your in-game ship. Once I figured this out it became a whole new game.
Flight Control Rocket
Ahh Flight Control…one of my favorite franchises that I loved playing on my Android. Whereas Flight Control on the phone was landing airplanes and jets, Flight Control Rocket puts you in space landing spaceships on a space station. All-in-all, this is the same game as Flight Control where you use your finger to draw the flight paths of the incoming rockets while trying to avoid crashes, but there are few welcome extras in the Rocket version.
For one the multipliers are a lot more obvious and a huge challenge. Chain your colors together to get a bigger score but don’t wait too long or your air space will get a bit too crowded. FC Rocket also throws in the concept of in-game coins that let you purchase add-on robot power-ups, crystals and batteries that can all help you survive a little bit longer. Playing Flight Control on the phone is a lot of fun but lets face it, the screen is way too small. Flight Control Rocket on the iPad is a wonderful improvement that is just a lot of fun play.
Now you don’t think I’d leave this review sit without talking about some real retro games, did you? Of course not and Midway Arcade is the classic gamers gateway to fun and expensive. Out of the box, Midway Arcade comes with Defender, Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tapper, Arch Rivals and Joust…and they’re all free to play and uncrippled. You can purchase more games like NARC and Gauntlet in add-on packs, and surprisingly enough they are only a dollar.
I don’t really spend much time playing these games on the iPad but this incarnation of classics has reintroduced me to Joust. I had a brief Joust phase on the NES but it didn’t last very long and playing Joust on the iPad is great for controls since you spend most of your time pounding a button with one finger. Obviously these games weren’t designed for touchscreen controls but I guess that just gives you an excuse to get the iCade joystick accessory.
Isn’t technology grand?
I didn’t get an iPad to be a gaming device but it seems like that’s where a lot of people are going now…just ask Nintendo. I covered only four games out of the thousands available in the App Store and I didn’t even mention the more popular titles like Swords & Sorcery and Infinity Blade. The iPad has the power and the games look insanely great on the new retina screen. And just can’t even begin to describe the difference in playing games on a phone versus the tablet. It is like night and day, and I’m looking forward to all the iPad can bring.