There are many budget titles on iPhone… some free and some around the 50p mark ($1). These budget titles are more often than not from fledgling games developers, bitten by the iPhone SDK bug. Some are good, most are pretty bad, but it’s always hard to knock a free or super cheap game. Alien Invasion (not to be confused with Space Invasion which I reviewed earlier this week here) is one of those budget games that I couldn’t avoid downloading. At only 50p it hits that budget sweet spot, but the main draw is the promise of retro alien shooting action!
So what’s it about? Well quite simply, your city is under attack and you must destroy the enemy with a simple tap of your finger. The twist is that some of the enemy ships are carrying abductees. Shoot down one of these babies and you risk depleating your health bar and ultimately failing the mission. Later levels feature differnet coloured ship types, like the green ship which restore health and the blinking ships which have a greater blast radius when shot. This style of quick tap gameplay has been done before in Radius (reviewed here) but with much higher quality presentation.
It’s this lack of graphical flare that lets this game down, big budget or no budget (interestingly Radius is only 50p ($1) more than this this game, but the graphics are light years apart). I like the 50s inspired art-style for the ships, but there isn’t much variation and barely any animation. The backgrounds are nicely rendered, but are static… some explosions in the background, depicting a larger battle taking place, would be nice.
The menu system unfortunately looks terrible, and makes the game look very cheap indeed. There isn’t really any consistent style throughout. Simpler menu graphics would actually look better (see Space Invasion) and fit with the retro theme… it shows that less can indeed be more!
The game is fun in spirts, but needs some polish and greater depth in the gameplay if it’s to compete with and try and better similar games, such as Radius and Space Invasion.