As many arcade gamers will tell you, Galaga was awesome. First-person shooters wouldn’t be nearly where they are today if it wasn’t for shoot-em-up games. They had one simple mechanic…shoot. What made these games so playable is their addictive nature; you wanted to make that high score, you wanted to beat your friends at it, you wanted that quarter to go a long way, but most of all–you just wanted to shoot shit!
Utilizing the iPhone’s advanced control surface, membraine studios has created a flick-based shoot-em-up. While the developer may be proud of their work, does Orbital Defence really fare up against games such as Space Invaders and Galaga? Does the flick-based mechanic add anything to the gameplay or is it simply a fluke?
Orbital Defence takes a familiar approach on the genre. You’re shooting meteorites or dragonflies or whatever else may be headed Earth’s way. The main elements of the game are laid out from the beginning: flick and shoot the objects headed towards you and try to do it accurately. Accuracy boosts up your score and if you’re going to be showing your high score off, which Orbital Defence has support for, you may want to pay close attention to the shots you’re firing.
Naturally, the flick-based mechanic provides for a nice challenge. With three game modes–novice, adept, and master–you’re sure to find your fit. For the extremely competitive gamer, there’s the never-surprising Survival mode which also contains the leaderboard function. I found the levels to be challenging, even on the “novice” difficulty setting. membraine studios thought this out by providing you with a “Level Select” screen in which you can choose whichever level you wish to start from (there are 12 in total so far, the developer promises more in future updates). Being able to change the shot sensitivity is another useful function.
While all of these inclusions are helpful and the game is fun to play, I can’t help but think it feels empty at times. Campaign and Survival are great modes but they’ve become the norm. The flick-based mechanic is a cool selling point, but it’s not exactly genre-defining in my eyes.
The Unity 3D engine is absolutely magnificent. The game runs smoothly and I haven’t had a single problem with slowdown issues. In fact, character models and colors look sharp; it’s no wonder the Unity 3D engine is doing so well for iPhone/iPod Touch titles. Orbital Defence is aesthetically pleasing and even distracted me on a couple of occasions because of its smoothness.
You are Earth’s last defense. Destroy the incoming objects and bugs/aliens and become the world’s savior. Each level has a humorous title and gives at least some sense of direction as to what’s happening. But for the most part…SHOOT!
There’s really not much of a soundtrack but the sound effects are spacey enough and the game succeeds in its attempt to make you reminisce of those old-school arcade hits. While I may have certain gripes with calling the game revolutionary, what is certain is its level of enjoyment. Orbital Defence oozes fun and at the price point of $1.99, it’s hard to argue that you can find many better titles.
membraine studios has solidified itself a place in my book as one of the most worthy indie devs on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. Well done! Check out the game’s official website right here.