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iOS Shooter Index

All the shmups, all the time

by Burkhart von Klitzing

Facetroids - iOS (2011)

Another Asteroids-clone, this time trying to garner interest through facebook connectivity that allows for replacing the asteroids with your friends's faces. It would be nice if developer IIS had also thought of using pictures taken with your device's camera, as not everybody uses facebook and not everybody would want to connect his account to some software from a completely unknown “company" (if you want to call it a company), but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

The game itself is basic Asteroids lacking items and true enemies, further marred by bad controls. The accelerometer controls are far too sensitive, rendering smooth turning nearly impossible, and the alternative stick controls work the same way as in Coloroids, mapping the thruster and direction controls on the same stick. A neat idea, meanwhile, is the ability to choose between the facebook-mode, black-and-white retro visuals and decently-looking modernized visuals. It should come as no surprise that this isn't enough to save Facetroids, however. If you can look past the control issues and can't live any longer without being able to shoot your friends in an Asteroids clone, then get ahead and download it. It's free. But you've been warned of the shortcomings at hand here.

Facetroids


Asteroids: Classic Arcade Game - iOS (2012)

Developer App Giant comes a tad late to the party, releasing another free Asteroids clone in February 2012, treading the exact same routes as all the other ones before it, just without any defining feature this time around...unless you let ridiculous in-app purchases count.

It's classic black-and-white Asteroids action without UFOs, but at least with a random teleportation button and screen-clearing grenades, although the latter only matter theoretically, as you'd have to buy them for a buck a piece or in a pack of five for two dollars. Two extra lives set you back $1. Since the game itself is so laughably basic and pale in comparison to even the most basic competitors on the App Store, there is hardly any reason to sink any money into this. Don't let yourself get fooled by the obviously fake five star ratings.

Even if you'd decide to just play it for free and blast some space rubble for a break from something else, you'll probably find yourself disliking the non-customizable control set, where the fire button is on the left and all steering and thrusting has to be done with your right hand. It doesn't play THAT bad, just not all that well either.

Asteroids - Classic Arcade Game


Advanced ROX - iOS (2010)

Even among a plethora of bad Asteroids clones, Advanced ROX sinks to the bottom of the barrel, and once again shabby controls are to blame. Your ship gains momentum as you tap on the screen. The further away from your ship you tap, the faster it moves. Tap your ship to bring it to an immediate halt...if you're able to precisely hit such a small target, that is. A button in the lower left triggers your weapon, which can be upgraded inbetween stages with credits left behind by destroyed asteroids.

The controls feel horribly awkward and the action remains repetitive, lacking any variety such as flying saucers, pickup items or anything else. While the backgrounds look fairly nice, the asteroids, their (huge) explosions and the credit orbs are all gray, making it unnecessarily difficult to properly distinguish between them at times. To cut it short: Advanced ROX is a complete waste of money.

Advanced ROX


Meteor Blaster - iOS (2011)

When covering Meteor Blaster, I initially typed in "Asteroids" as its title. This Freudian slip in fact mostly sums up the game, although it is a bit unfair...to the original Asteroids. Meteor Blaster is a free homage/copy/wannabe of the pretty ancient shooter classic adding nothing new outside of barely noticeable polygon upgrades for the space boulders all while failing miserably at both controls and physics.

Like in the original you don't steer your craft directly into any direction you want it to move. Instead you can turn it left or right and accelerate by turning on the front or back thrusters all done with your lef thumb, or whatever body part you personally prefer, while the right thumb triggers the cannon used to first split up the big asteroids into smaller ones which can then be completely destroyed. This basic concept worked well in the past and can still be fair enough for a few minutes of mindless fun. If done right, that is. In this case, though, the controls render the game nigh unplayable, because the buttons assigned for movement are way too small and therefore unresponsive. More often than not you will find yourself looking at the virtual d-pad trying to figure out on which axis your finger positioning actually failed that time. Hence, dodging is just as tiresome as is hunting and even suiciding is harder than it should be (in the game, mind you, in the game!).

If this wasn't enough of a reason to not download it, there is also no music whatsoever playing, the asteroids behave utterly strange when colliding and the help screen even doesn't get the controls right, explaining that pressing up will rotate the ship left and that pressing left will move you forward.

Meteor Blaster

Meteor Blaster


Asteroid-Z - iOS (2009)

There appears to be a golden rule for Asteroids homages to never truly go beyond the original's simplicity and so Asteroid-Z by Flipside5 is no exception. Apart from the occasional score multiplicator or extra life floating through space, ready to be picked up, it's all down to the decades-old asteroid blasting without any alien encounters or similar shenanigans. Two neat little twists did find their way into the game, however, adding an additional thin layer of tactical gameplay.

Pressing one of the virtual buttons results in an instant teleportation to a random location somewhere on the screen, possibly getting you out of tight situations or just as well spell certain death. Another button activates a force field preventing your ship from taking any damage, thus allowing for otherwise suicidal dashes right into the space rubble, trying to cause as much destruction as possible before the shield energy depletes. It can, of course, also be used as a last resort when other means wouldn't suffice to get you out of danger.

A potential source of danger in pretty much every Asteroids clone on i-devices lies in the control mechanics and Asteroid-Z doesn't quite manage to work around the issues inherent in mimicking the original's thruster-heavy controls, but it's still one of the best attempts. The two different accelerometer based systems (point and turn) are better ignored, whereas the virtual stick controls work fine enough most of the time. Turning around without propelling yourself forward isn't as easy as it used to be, due to the lack of a thrust-button, instead mapping it onto said virtual stick, but it's possible to work around this by simply keeping more distance to the asteroids and by using the stick gently. The one aspect that is likely to leave you scratching your head is why the shield and teleport buttons have been placed near the stick and not close to the fire button, effectively rendering it impossible to move and activate the shield simultaneously. This is plain stupid on the developer's behalf, but it's nonetheless one of the better Asteroids-style games on the App Store. Unfortunately, it's been taken off the download service, however.

Asteroid-Z

Asteroid-Z


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iOS Shooter Index

All the shmups, all the time

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