Version tested: iPhone
Yes, it's time for another roundup of the iPhone games that have been catching our attention recently. (There's plenty of other iPhone-related stuffon the site already, in case you missed it.) As ever, do drop the names of any interesting games you've found in the comments or on the forum and we'll be sure to check them out.
- Publisher: ngmoco
- Price: GBP 1.19
- Download size: 8.7MB
Inspired by 8-bit classic Thrust, Dropship is the latest ngmoco-published title to take a long-forgotten idea and jazz it up for the iPhone. For just GBP 1.19 you get arcade action in the best possible sense, built around eye-catching vector graphics and tight, intuitive, inertia-driven controls. As has been the case with all ngmoco's titles to date, the premise is instant and engaging: you're tasked with guiding your vector-thrust powered supership through a series of wireframe caverns on a mission to grab a pod.
The controls are intuitive and responsive. Utilising an innovative 'touch anywhere' dual analogue system the left side of the screen acts as your thrust control, and right is given over to directional fire. As you press on the screen, you'll notice a ring indicating the direction of your virtual thumbstick - which helps to make up for the obvious lack of tactile feedback. It all takes a bit of getting used to, but the responsiveness is such that it's not long before you're able to coax your ship through the tightest of gaps and fire with precision.
Of course, it's not long before the game amps up the challenge and throws more complex level layouts at you, along with a procession of enemies. As you inch your way down into the subterranean environment, it becomes important to be able to aim with precision to avoid losing precious shield energy.
While you're down there you can also choose to pick up stranded allies who, amusingly, share the names of the people in your contacts book. Rescuing humans earns you a better score, and picking them up also gives you a temporary weapons upgrade - allowing you to progressively beef-up your arsenal with rapid fire, spread cannons, devastating rotatable lasers and more.
Soon enough you'll discover your cargo, and from there it's a case of frantically winching it to safety without it smacking into rocks. Inertia often works against you as you jimmy your ship this way and that so it's a delicate game of buzz bar trying to fine-tune the navigation at speed, all while firing rapidly at enemies and hightailing it out of there before the clock ticks down. It's nerve-wracking stuff, intensified by the kind of psychedelic fireworks we're more used to seeing in Geometry Wars than on the iPhone.
With only 18 campaign missions to get through, the excitement is short-lived. That said, the infinite freeplay mode (where rescuing an increasing number of humans becomes the aim) and the promise of downloadable levels should keep you coming back for more. Dropship is a wonderful example of why the iPhone is such an exciting prospect for handheld gaming.