Steel and Rocketfuel: ExZeus in Review

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HyperDevbox Japan smash through the boundaries of many gamer’s wildest dreams with ExZeus. Not only do they bring to the iDevice giant robots and big guns, but ExZeus, a coinop arcade game now fits into the greasy pockets of iPhone and iPod Touch gamers everywhere.

Hyperdevbox sport an impressive catalogue of games for PS2, Wii and xBox 360 as well as with the debut of ExZeus, an upcoming ports section for handheld gaming machines. ExZeus is a great achievement as a first handheld port and I hope will is indicative of the quality of games that are in the production queue. Though excellent, ExZeus is hampered not by its  content but by hardware limitations in the iDevice.

Gameplay and Presentation
Hot hot hot. Visually ExZeus is unmatched in the iPhone field for impressive 3D and fast frames per second. It is flashy and excitingly colourful with explosions, special effects and titilating 3D details. Lightning, fireballs, bombs and bits of exploding enemy impress while scripted elements integrate well into this havoc-sodden game. Visually, ExZeus is a tour de force.

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Fortunately, sound and voice synthesis too are exciting. The music is a blend of industrial electronic and old-school shooting game. ExZues is after all, an arcade game brought to the iPhone. It has to impress visually in a crowded sweaty room of teens and call to the furthest corners where kids are snapping dirty Puricura pictures in the dark. ExZues’ arcade pedigree is its strongest selling point considering the often inexperienced competition in the App Store which is unversed in drawing the eye and ear. If you ever get sick of the music however you can play your John Denver collection whilst blasting baddies.

Compared to the presentation elements, gameplay does not fall apart but is a mixed bag. Firstly, the controls are excellent. Titling the iPhone or iPod to move around the screen is intuitive and after a few minutes of warm-up, becomes second-nature. Firing is as easy as tapping, mutli-tapping or drawing lines across the screen to rain fire on the field. Controls can be also be adjusted in an options menu to your liking including tilt sensitivity and the imperative inverted tilt. If you still cannot figure everything out, there is a short tutorial that gives all the pertinent information you need to blast away the baddies.

There are three robots to select from – each representing a style of gameplay. It is easy and fun and despite its small size, ExZeus still plays like its arcade parent – to a point.

Where the Rough Gets Going
Unfortunately, all is not well in port-from-arcade land. No matter how fun or visually impressive; no matter the whuffie your mates will pay you for squeezing out an arcade machine from your pocket, port-to-iPhone games sometimes do not play the way we want. In fact, though fun, ExZeus borders on unplayable. It is easy to control, easy to shoot and easy to get the hang of. However, it an arcade game where survival means saving your quarters. On the big screen with a joystick and pound-em buttons, the ExZeus review could stop after the above paragraph. On the iPhone, gameplay becomes repetitive quickly and levels are short with boss-sequences that are as long as level-clearing runs. It is harder than the arcade, Wii or PS2 versions which have dedicated controls to help you eek out your 5 lives. Worst of all, you play alone with no excited friends drooling candy into your shoulder and stealing your quarters.

Simply put, saving change with maveric flying skills is more fun than tilting and tapping. You can play to your hearts content knowing that your one-time payment of 1.99$ will not put you out on the streets, but on the small screen, escaping enemies, dodging and even shooting become tedious and with excessive tilting, dizzying. Remeber, you have only 5 lives to somehow finish this game and not heave up.

exzeus-reviewimg_0007Most frustrating however is shooting sytem: in order to kill, you have to tap, draw lines or hold down on the only visual real-estate available. This hampers movement and visibility and unfortunately, fun. No matter the fact that HyderDevBox Japan implemented as ergonomic controls as is possible on the iDevice, ExZeus is simply not playable.

There is nothing wrong with the iPhone port of ExZeus; it is fast, excellently rendered and a showcase for what the portable gaming system can do. But, ExZeus has its fun in the arcades where you can hang out with other sleazy teens (I am still one – just not a teen) sipping fizzies and pounding greasy fingers into viral buttons. On the iPhone, the fun quicklyl dulls. Though well-executed, ExZeus shows the limitations of the system. HyperDevbox Japan have brought a great game to the funnest iPod ever, but ExZeus is not the funnest game to play.

ExZues gets tapped by TouchMyApps.


App Summary
Title: ExZeus Developer: HyperDevbox Japan, 有限会社
Price: $4.99 App Size: 78.4 MB
  • Great graphics
  • Great sound and music options
  • Controls utilise iDevice functionality well
  • Arcade in your pocket!
  • Too hard
  • Screen too small to support movement and firing controls simultaneously
  • 5 lives is way too little


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