Project Phoenix in Review – 21st century Jackal

I suppose I am showing my age by titling this review after what I consider to be one of the best team-games of all time: Jackal for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The controls are different, and as of yet, there is no multiplayer. But the frantic, frenetic action is the same. And if you like to blow up baddies, I there aren’t many better ways to spend a few minutes, or 2$.

The basic premise of Phoenix is as unique as the latest fashionable haircut. You drive back an invading alien force, and eventually bring the smack down. Everything is fun. From buggying around the screen to blowing things up, Phoenix bloody rocks.

So, while it isn’t a deep game, at least it is fun. Phoenix does dual analogue controls very well as long as you aren’t all thumbs. There are a number of movement issues created by strange environmental influences such as trees and the rubbished bodies of the dead, but overall, controlling gun turrets with the right hand and movement with the left is spot on.

Phoenix is all about the baddies who get off blasting impervious walls

Phoenix looks and sounds pretty hot. Movement is smooth, baddies explode beautifully, and gun effects are brilliant. There are loads of frames of animation on the screen which can slow down during scenes of terrible action. But otherwise, this is one of the best looking 2D games on the platform. If you care to nitpick, though, most sprites sport a ‘halo’ which gives the game a ‘cut-out’ feel. It isn’t good, but hell – this is a 2$ game.

Like the story, mission depth could be counted in a couple of millimetres – each level must be cleared of all enemies. But that is precisely why Phoenix works: it is simple. You move, you shoot. And along the way, you collect money, power ups, and upgrade your vehicles. There are loads of weapons to choose from, a repair kit, and some armour. You can also hire a mate to help out. But, don’t expect that mate to get around trees very well, or to make it past the heaps of dead enemies.

Let me rant about A.I. just for a bit. Baddies tirelessly shoot trees, walls, or empty bits of space while you run amuck destroying their once-proud army; and conversely, your headless mates cannot find their way around trees and other rubbish. But don’t worry, you don’t really need them anyway – Phoenix ends not too long after it starts. There,  a long list of better gamers will populate the screen and raise your blood pressure in the makings of jealousy. Sad Cat Software need to add more levels though as this excellent game is just too short. And, if they can manage the resources, Phoenix is a perfect game to add a multiplayer engine to.

At the end of the day, the two dollars spend on Phoenix is a good investment. If you like action, smooth graphics, upgrades, and excellent explosions, it is a great way to cut the calories of a chocolate bar out of your life. And considering that these problems can be addressed in software patches, I think it is fair to say that Sad Cat have a good formula on their hands.

App Summary
Title: Project Phoenix Developer: Sad Cat Software
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 2.2
Price: $1.99 App Size: 10.5 MB
  • Fun as hell
  • Smooth, detailed graphics
  • Good controls
  • Addictive
  • Environment/control issues
  • A.I.


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