Dam Buster in Review – Not As Good As it Looks

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There’s a place for simple games on any system, and especially portable ones where you may sometimes only be able to play for a short burst. But there’s still something inherently ‘playable’ about those games, something that makes you want to come back and try again, or play just a little bit more. Toy Raid succeeded in being that type of game in a way that Dam Buster wants to be, but unfortunately, it just falls too short in too many areas.

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Stylistically, it looks nice, using very similar cartoonish graphics to iBomber. And there are clear instructions given before you start the game, in the form of a mission briefing that’s well presented. Even as the mission begins, the game looks like you’re viewing an old black and white WWII documentary. But unfortunately, as you start to control the game, things begin to fall apart.

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There are three parts to each mission. You start with your bomber flying high in the air, trying to avoid all sorts of bullets, missiles and enemy aircraft. This is done by accelerometer control, and the goal of part one is to gain as much airspeed as possible before heading into part two of the mission. You do this by picking up fuel tanks floating in the sky and avoiding enemy fire. Frankly, it’s nearly impossible to not be hit by most of these things, and this is where frustration begins to set in. But here’s the good news, there’s no health, so the only thing that’s affected by your being hit is your airspeed.

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So you head into stage two, which has you flying lower and your bomb is now visible. Your task is to touch the screen in a circular motion to rev that bomb up as much as possible. Once you’re happy with it’s speed, you lift your finger and a moving arrow will appear. This is going to be the trajectory of your bomb release, but you have to try and time it by taping the screen when the arrow is pointing in the direction you want the bomb to go in. It’s a little like the timing in most Golf Games nowadays, except the arrow is really moving too fast, so you have to anticipate where you want it to be and hit the screen before it’s in that spot. Once you’ve done that, the game enters part three.

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And in part three, you just watch the bomb go and pray it hits the target. It skips over the water, sometimes getting a boost by hitting seemingly randomly placed rubber ducks. Sometimes the bomb bounces high, sometimes it skips low. Sometimes it soars right over the target. What’s worse is, when it hits, if you don’t completely destroy the Dam, your target is even harder to hit on the next run, as its size has been reduced but your ability to aim has not gotten any better. And if you haven’t gained enough speed in part 1, the bomb will run out of steam before reaching the goal of blasting the Dam.

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My biggest problems with Dam Buster could have been solved by giving the player a little more control over the game. Why can’t I aim the arrow for the release of the bomb in stage two myself? If I could do that, then I’d have the ability to do more trial and error, replaying missions and trying different angles for the attack. But because it’s all so random and chance based, there’s just no incentive to keep trying. The game looks pretty, I’ll give it that, but ultimately I just can’t give it anything more than a Slap It rating.

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App Summary
Title:Dam Buster (v 1.0)Developer: Cobra Mobile
Price:$0.99App Size:8.1 MB
  • Great graphics and art
  • Not enough control given to the player
  • Too random and luck based

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