There is a word I rarely use when reviewing a game: exceptional. Yet, Blue Attack! rightly deserves this description. John Kooistra has managed to create a game that reaches a level of polish, gameplay, and affordability that sets it apart from most others in the SHMUP (Shoot ‘em up) genre and within the landfill that is the App Store. This is one game that definitely rises above the rest.
Blue Attack! approaches its graphics and interface with a clean, straightforward design. Its neon blue and red theme is drawn from John’s earlier game, Blue Defense!. Despite the use of other options in the great majestic color wheel, I found that this simplistic interpretation of space combat works in its favor. The game’s fps (frames per second) doesn’t slow down, even with multiple enemies on screen. Also, it helps me to more accurately see the enemy cores, which will be described later in this review. Also, it does harken back to the old G.I. Joe days where one side shot blue lasers and the other shot red. Unfortunately, it was the bad guys who had the blue lasers… which helps me to imagine Blue Attack! as an alternative universe where Cobra won. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, wikipedia it please.
The inclusion of a comprehensive, well done tutorial also sets a standard for other app store games. It is a comprehensive tour of the whole game. At the end of the tutorial, you are given a massive amount of credits to try out various customization schemes before you enter the game proper. This allows you to find your style of play in a safe environment and also allows you to experiment with what works and doesn’t work.
While not completely inventive in its gameplay offering, Blue Attack! has taken the standard SHMUP fare, jacked it on steroids, and let it loose to the public. It combines two elements that most hardcore gamers love: pure action and rpg-esque upgrading. The ability to customize your ship creates varying levels of strategy as you approach increasingly difficult levels. Do you want to invest in the ‘strafe’ option early? Do you want more wingmen or would you focus on building up your own ship first? Should you get the ‘force blast’ or be satisfied with bombs? You must be mindful of all this as you only have 7 slots available for controller input. The amount of customization and variety in your strategy may be overwhelming for some who “just want to play.” Thankfully, John Kooistra added an ‘auto-upgrade’ ability.
The gameplay itself is amazing. You squadron is controlled either through touch screen input or the accelerometer, which is able to be calibrated according to your preference. There are a number of different enemy types that require you think of how you want to approach them. They range from small and fast types that will annoy you to freakishly huge ones that will intimidate you. Each enemy ship is comprised of armor and a core. If you destroy the core, you destroy the whole ship.
Their objective is either to hunt you down and destroy you or attack your carrier. Since they come in from all 360 degrees, you nee to be aware of their proximity and location. This variety that John Kooistra adds enhances the replay value of Blue Attack!. There are definitely some levels that I enjoy playing over again just to re-face a particular boss.
That’s where the real fun of Blue Attack! comes in. Each situation can be won in different ways. If your weapons are upgraded and you have enough wingmen, you can rush in, “guns a blazin”, destroy a ship’s outer defenses, and attack the core. Maybe, if your ship is fast enough, you want to circle around, find the weak points, fly into the superstructure of the ship, and attack its core. Perhaps you would like to use the bomb. The addition of a bonus multiplier forces you to decide quickly. If you destroy a ship’s core in under 10 seconds you get a 10x multiplier. This decreases to zero bonus multipliers if it takes you over 30 seconds. These points are then used for the customization of your ship.
John Kooistra includes an infinite level mode that still allows you to upgrade your ship. Unlike the promises of “HOURS OF FUN!” that other apps may purport, this option actually engages you for that long. The ability to save mid-game, so you can alway pick up where you left off, is a God-send for this. There is also a local and global leaderboard for both the infinite and campaign modes. On top of that, there are extra stats such as the length of gameplay and cores killed that satiates the stats-junkie in me.
My only gripe with this game is in the fact that it does have a steeper than normal learning curve for the accelerometer control. I found myself losing wingmen or even running into massive cores due to my lack of fine motor control like those of a professional surgeon. Maybe I was just getting greedy.
Blue Attack! is a game I was looking for, even if I didn’t know I was looking for it. It is almost unbeatable for its price, gameplay, and polish. It is one of the most engaging games currently on my iTouch, and one that will stay for months to come.
|Title:||Blue Attack!||Developer:||John Kooistra|
|Price:||$1.99||App Size:||6.8 mb|