Cave Co., Ltd., 1 Player, $8.99 iPhone 3GS/4, iPad, 3rd Gen iPod Touch 32MB/64MB
Now I don’t know about most of you but there is one game type that will never get old for me, and that is Shmups. When living in Japan, I could not help but to go and at least spend 100 yen on a game or two. It was a feeling of pure nostalgia from back in the days, when arcades were the place to be State side. Now to my surprise, the iPhone of all platforms (missing the standard equipment of a joystick and at least 2 buttons in favor of a touch pad) is quickly becoming the new home for arcade style Shmups, and boy is it good.
Espgluda 2 is one of the most beautiful games on the iPhone and iPod touch. A pure joy to play, every time I pick it up. The great sprite work mixed with immersive backgrounds is truly something to behold on the iPhone. The fast pace but smooth environments and skills used make for a beautiful mix of player interaction and environment.
The controls are selectable for all player styles (even the option to pick which side the buttons appear), skill, and will vary depending on the game style you choose. In the iPhone play style version ; Simplified, players only control the Awakening Button (the main point and massive bullet wave dodging skill that turns all enemy bullets in to gold when inactivating it.) and everything else on auto; Normal, Players control the Awakening Button as well as the Guard Barrier(A skill that lets you charge up a powerful blast while taking no damage from enemies.) with the rest on auto; Expert, where players control Awakening, Guard Barrier, Shooting on/off, as well as letting the player to change their firing pattern from a more spread out firing pattern to a focused beam attack that does more damage to whatever is in front of the player.
But once you enter the Arcade Mode, the game almost changes to a different beast, with the changes to the Awakening Button. You will no longer be able to get the brief break from the bullet spray that you had in the iPhone mode, but instead gain the ability to slow all bullets and maneuver around them with ease while having a more powerful standard attack until your gems run out in which case you will keep the stronger fire power but enemy bullets will travel at twice the speed. This also makes the only way to gain gold, by actually defeating the enemies that fired the bullets. You may not gain any gems at this time as well, increasing the risk and reward style of this mode.
Now while most of you will be reading this and beating your chest yelling at the idea of playing games on a touch screen is for casuals and ruins the Shmup experience, let me just ask you if you have ever played a Shump on the touch screen? If not there is a free demo, which if you have not downloaded already and then complained, all I have to say to you is “Fuck right off, good sir.” Cave as done not only a wonderful job, but what I would call a flawless job converting the controls. Simple, clean, and elegant.
So what’s the verdict?
One of the best games on the Appstore. If you don’t own it already, buy it, if you know people that have not bought it yet, make them read this, and if they don’t buy it, they are not your friends.