ngmoco:) has quickly become a developer many are keeping a close eye on for the iPhone. While they may not have released a bundle of games thus far, the ones that ngmoco have are both fun and unique in their own way (Topple, Dr. Awesome). With the recent release of Dropship, ngmoco has outdone themselves this time and quite possibly have put together the ultimate Arcade game that is as addictive as it is impressive.
Dropship is a retro Arcade Shooter inspired by titles like Thrust and Geometry wars. It excels not because of eye popping graphics, but rather for a superbly implemented control system and fun gameplay.
Welcome back Commander – Pilot your Dropship, power-up your weapons and penetrate enemy caverns destroying turrets, tanks & Interceptors as you fight to Evac your stranded allies and retrieve “the pod”. Effect your daring escape with your cargo in tow dodging enemy fire, homing missiles with your vector thrust powered super ship.
As the ‘Commander’, your main objective is to fly the Dropship through space caverns and locate the greenly lit ‘pod’. Along the way, picking up comrades will not only add to your score, but also upgrade your cannon’s firepower. Once you find the pod and hover close enough, your ship will automatically grapple the package and trigger a countdown. Now you must race against the clock and backtrack your way through the same cavern, evading more enemies and skillfully flying around tight openings. The level is complete when you escape from the map along with the pod before time runs out.
Dropship’s control system is beautifully executed. Using your thumb to touch anywhere on the left part of the screen will trigger the navigation controls, while the right will fire your cannon. Very much like using a Playstation dual analog controller, you will be able to fly and fire just by rotating your thumbs in the desired direction. The best part is that you are not restricted to a set location for moving and firing. You decide where it is you want your controls to be. After even just a few minutes of piloting the dropship and testing out its 360 degree canon, I found it highly intuitive and also lots of fun.
The retro 3D environments of Dropship work very well. Everything about it has an old school feel and that’s a great thing. While the models were designed in 3D, you essentially only play it in 2D, thanks to a camera system that works wonderfully. As you navigate your way through treacherous caverns, the camera will pan in and out and tilt accordingly, giving you an optimal view of the action on hand.
The campaign mode has 18 levels that contain deeper and more challenging caverns as you progress. Since it can get pretty tough in later stages, the checkpoint system (which is activated upon securing the pod) is most welcome. So if you die while trying to evac, you won’t have to start all over again. Some of the larger maps will give you 3 minutes to escape with the package, while some will give you as little as 30 seconds.
Besides campaign mode, you will also find an addictive Freeplay Mode that will have you rescuing your allies instead of packages. The levels get progressively harder, with more crews to evac and tougher enemies to face. Once you lose though, its back to level 1. To round things off, there are even downloadable levels from ngmoco that you can play with. This is a very nice touch that will keep players coming back for even more Dropship action.
The Bottom Line: It has been a long time since I had this much fun with an action packed Arcade game. With a control system that works fluidly and gameplay that is both addictive and challenging, Dropship may very well be one of the best games out on the iPhone. All this for only $1.99? An amazing value indeed.