BLASTEROIDS

REVIEW: BLASTEROIDS

First off, if you find you have even a passing interest in BLASTEROIDS ($1.00) before reading this review, by all means, go and download DeadKings. BLASTEROIDS is a featured minigame there (along with Checkers & Breakout), and DeadKings is an excellent game that throws in everything but the castle sink. You’ll pay the same price, and you get about 575%1 more game. No need to thank me.

BLASTEROIDS - Screen

For everyone else still here reading this, BLASTEROIDS is a stand-alone title that is… you guessed it, an Asteroids clone. It plays exactly how you remember it, and the vector graphics are as tidy (albeit simplistic) today as they were in the halcyon days of 1980s arcades. You control a triangle-shaped ship, and you are able to spin 360 degrees and thrust forward. Large asteroids lumber into view, which you then shoot, breaking them into smaller asteroids, avoiding the resulting pieces while continuing to destroy them all. Then you advance to the next round, and pad your score some more.

There are some added perks to the game, including skin-saving bombs that will destroy all tiny asteroids on-screen, or a shield that can absorb collision damage (so long as you don’t thrust straight into a big asteroid, it will take a few hits). You can also earn extra ships / bombs at different point plateaus.

While the gameplay undoubtedly was cutting edge for its time, and ate up thousands of quarters in said arcades, its brand of action isn’t nearly as addictive in modern times. That’s not Asteroids‘ fault, mind you, we’ve simply moved on to bigger experiences.  Exacerbating that problem here is the fact that BLASTEROIDS doesn’t have a online leaderboard, or even record high scores for that matter. You could argue that the game itself is the ‘reward’, but again, modern palettes may demand something more substantial.

BLASTEROIDS - Screen2

There’s not much else to say about the game that a flash version can’t do just the same, and nothing left to sort, save for which of the three camps you fall into. Either you have a nostalgic itch that needs scratching ( …I did. I hadn’t played Asteroids in years before this), you’ve never played Asteroids before2, or you have no interest in revisiting the umpteenth homage to a verified classic.

Whatever group you identify with, BLASTEROIDS doesn’t judge, just merely exists as a reminder that Asteroids existed before it. That reminder will cost you a dollar3.


  1. Yes, it’s a made up percentage. But so is just about every other statistic you read on the internet. And anyway, I’m not lying about the amount of content you’ll find in DeadKings. It’s seriously like a ton of stuff. Fun stuff. 
  2. Blasphemous! 
  3. Or consider your purchase a ‘Thank You’ to developer Big Corporation for the awesome DeadKings
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Impossiball

REVIEW: Impossiball

Two paddles, one ball1. The most simple formula in gaming. A lot of indie developers that are just starting out probably start out with that very formula. It’s easy, but nowhere near ‘unique’. No matter what name you give your version, Pong is still Pong. You can add your own style of paddle, design the strangest ‘ball’ you want, Pong is still Pong. It’s a classic, yes, perhaps even the classic; the game that moved the goalposts forward and got us to where we are today. Yet, any way you want to slice it, Dark Duo‘s Impossiball ($1.00) is still Pong.

Well, Pong with ‘500 balls onscreen at once’ Pong, that is. Why so many balls? Because they can. Because we have the technology. Because subtlety is overrated. Impossiball‘s setup is nothing new; bare backgrounds, one paddle on each side of the screen (two can play locally, or there’s always the very clever AI), moving vertically, with you defending your end of the zone. Your paddle can also be angled, giving you some control over the ricochet, and how you’ll attack and / or defend. Again, nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Then there’s that whole ‘500 balls’ thing to start off each round.

As in Golf, your first swing makes all the difference, and determines how that particular round is going to end up. Ditto for Impossiball. The more balls you keep in play initially, the more pressure you put on your opponent to return that volley. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to miss quite a bit2, but that number naturally decreases as the match goes on, until you’ve whittled it down to a manageable amount. From there, standard rules apply.

Impossiball - Screen

There are a total of six powerups you can scoop up, too, that can help tilt the odds in your favor, albeit temporarily. These include the typical ‘lengthen your paddle’3, slow down / speed up tricks, and, for maximum frustration (especially at the beginning of a round), inverted controls. Depending on your chosen score limit / skill, games can last five minutes or twenty minutes.

Still, Pong is still Pong, and once the novelty of the 500-ball opening volley wears off, you’re left with the same formula that’s been done to death. Impossiball can absolutely be entertaining if you’ve got a friend nearby, but solo, you won’t get much mileage out of it.

 


  1. I’m talking about the game, not some obscure sexual fetish. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  2. The best strategy I found was to start your paddle in the middle, then slide up at an angle as the balls drift in. You’ll still miss half, but you’ll also send a couple hundred balls straight at your opponent’s face! …Don’t even think it. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  3. Seriously, I’m talking about the game, not slang for something else. Get. Your. Mind. …out of the gutter. 
DELTA

REVIEW: DELTA

Stuff like hermitgames‘ DELTA1 ($2.99) should really come labeled with a pair of warnings. The first is good news up front; the game is a fully-addictive arcade racer, has that ‘one more try’ quality that plenty of games aspire to but most don’t ultimately achieve. The second is not as good, and potentially hazardous to your health; DELTA is an all-out audio / visual assault on your respective senses. If you’re sensitive to pulsating lights and shapes in the slightest, or get motion sickness easily, it’s probably best to avoid the game entirely rather than take a chance.

Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer aside, the game is a sound-based first-person racer with trippy visuals. That’s just generic phrasing by me. In actuality, DELTA is like someone’s Tron-inspired acid trip through the trench sequence in the original Star Wars, running back to back with the ‘stargate’ sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dipped in a psychedelic rainbow, all while some Daft Punk / Aphex Twin-type music plays in the background2. It’s that busy!

Things move pretty fast, flashing and morphing and spinning as you whiz by, and the somewhat procedurally-generated courses you race on mean you can’t just memorize layouts to win. I say ‘somewhat’, as the tracks in DELTA are comprised of inter-connected ‘rooms’, aligned randomly. While you will eventually adjust to the hazardous walls (one hit = death, natch) and camera style in any given ‘room’, the corridor between can lead into a random layout each time, presenting a new race on each attempt. And you’ll be ‘attempting’ quite a bit; you’ll have to twitch your way through this one, my friend.

You can choose from a total of three race ‘classes': 120, 144, and 180. Each features its own visual design and music (the soundtrack is slightly interactive, modified with every triangle-shaped ‘delta’ you pick up along the way). While the default race is unlocked from the start, you’ve got to earn access to the latter two ‘tracks’ by reaching a preset distance marker in one continuous run. That total distance is, in essence, your score. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward racer. Your chief objective is to survive and / or reach the end of the stage, with a ‘reward’3 unlocked for completing all three.

DELTA - Screen

You can almost taste the colors, man.

The game’s excellent and eclectic graphics match the developer’s previous efforts, but those same novel visuals can work against the quickened gameplay in DELTA. Given the shifting nature of the rooms, and the constant pyrotechnics / flashing, it’s super easy to lose track of where you are and what you’re looking at. Throw in an occasionally-spinning camera, and ‘suddenly steering yourself straight into a wall that you quite literally didn’t see coming’ becomes totally plausible. The gameplay, too, can be its own worse enemy, as I literally felt fatigued at playing it for longer than an hour at a time.

That last bit can be mostly chalked up to late nights and eyestrain, though it’s certainly worth the mention, depending on how you plan to play. Consider it a challenge on several levels then, beyond the atypical difficulty of the navigation itself. So long as you don’t stare at your screen for too long, DELTA is plenty tough, and plenty fun.


  1. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  2. No embellishment. None. 
  3. And don’t bother asking me what that reward is, as I’m in no immediate danger of finishing the third track. 
Nandeyanen - The 1st Sutra

REVIEW: Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra

It’s not every day your Bullet Hell stars a super long-nosed demon that’s been asleep for a few thousand years, only to be immediately thrust into a long-brewing battle upon waking. Oh, and your lady fox1 has been kidnapped. That’s bound to make anyone cranky. Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra2 ($2.99) gives you a shooter steeped in Japanese mythology, in particular the Tengu and a war with the Yōkai (all of them folk / supernatural beings). The game features a gorgeous watercolor art style, with pretty transitions and effects within the stages themselves. It’s quite beautiful to look at.

Shame you don’t get much time to admire the scenery or listen to the music tracks, as something is usually trying to kill you… with an excessive amount of bullets. The Yōkai foot soldiers come in many flavors, but the real focus (and challenge) is at the end of a level. The game’s mini-bosses and main bosses can be a tough match-up for Tengu-man, tossing out thousands of bullets for you dodge. Like most Bullet Hells, though, your character has a very distinctive hit zone (belt buckle), allowing you to wade through a sea of fire and still manage to come out on the other side unscathed.

This is, of course, provided you have quick reflexes and know how to break shields / direct fire back at the enemy. Nandeyanen!? is more than a mere shooter, as its successful completion will require you to get acquainted with some basic mechanics, like bullet-canceling bombs, a reflective counterattack, and using your loyal familiars (spirits) to attack stronger foes and / or collapse their shields, making them temporarily vulnerable to your fire. If that sounds overly-complicated, I assure you it’s not.

The game is a still a shooter underneath, a matter of following patterns and noticing the routes you need to take. Yet its character shines through in the environments and enemy design, in bits of brief dialog before each fight, to give some ‘meat’ to the otherwise breezy events. If you’ve collected all of a given stage’s ‘runes’ (dropped by defeated enemies), you can save yourself some trouble and knock off a chunk of the boss’s health beforehand. These battles can get a little hectic to say the least, with several volleys of bullets to carefully maneuver through and simultaneously return fire.

Nandeyanen - The 1st Sutra - Screen

Unfortunately, the impressive visuals and ample challenge mask an extremely-short adventure; just three stages in total. It should run you no more than a half-hour of playtime. There’s no real reason to repeat the game either, unless you want to try another difficulty level or shuffle through some lovely concept art. To be fair, The 1st Sûtra marks the, ah, …first ‘chapter’ of the game’s story, but at $3, the asking price may be a bit much for the content it delivers. It remains to be seen what the cost of future3 chapters will be.

Frustrations with its brevity aside, Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra is still one of the better Bullet Hell shooters I’ve played on the marketplace, especially for the rich visual style and folk history. Developer Tchagata Games could have just as easily thrown together some hasty art and backgrounds and called it a wrap for its first project; the fact that they didn’t proves they respect the genre and the material. I look forward to seeing what comes next. It’s off to a strong start.


  1. She literally has fox ears …and a real problem keeping her shirt on and / or buttoned. 
  2. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  3. The developers have stated this is only the beginning for Tengu-man, but how many chapters there will be in all, or if there’s a concrete release schedule for the rest, was not given. 
Santa Slay

REVIEW: Santa Slay

Depending on when you’re reading this article… Happy Holidays! What? It’s not? Oh, I mean… er… well, you know. I’ve got a very narrow window of opportunity for this thing. Carry on, then. September is probably a little early for spending sprees and gift-giving (just don’t tell that to this consumerist economy of ours), but that hasn’t stopped Santa Slay1 ($1.00) from getting its holly-jolly party started before the credits have even started to roll on Summer.

Santa Slay - Screen

A side-scrolling shooter with South Park-ian2 visuals, Santa Slay has old St. Nick returning home from a test run of his experimental sleigh to find his entire workforce of elves and reindeer slaughtered, the apparent work of (maybe) terrorists hell-bent on the annihilation of the holiday spirit. That storyline, as ludicrous as it is, is humorous enough3 to carry the otherwise pedestrian shooting, with Santa and his chief elf taking on hordes of enemies from every walk of life, from aliens to bloated helicopters, and a giant snowman.

Fictional holiday figures fighting each other to the death aside, it’s the typical shooter setup— one hit equals death, kill everything that moves, a boss at the end of each level. Some strategy will be necessary. You can’t strictly hold the trigger down to ‘spray & pray’ throughout, as doing so overheats your guns, but you get the idea. Powerups come in the form of packaged presents, and include the usual staples of shields, advanced weaponry, and extra lives.

Santa Slay - Screen2

Boss fights are a highlight, and can be tough. And no, I have no idea what this thing is supposed to be.

Despite the simplistic hook, Santa Slay does hide a fairly significant challenge. Your pool of extra lives is shallow, and a lone sleigh drifting among a sea of very tiny bullets means you won’t see everything coming. There’s no continue system or saved game option either, though most shooter fans shouldn’t have too much trouble in completing the game’s half a dozen stages, including a multi-part finale against another holiday mascot, pissed that his holiday is relegated to being a ‘crappier version of Halloween’.

Humor may or may not be enough for you, and Santa Slay offers nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s rather short4, rather basic, isn’t going to make anyone’s ‘Best-Dressed’ list, yet it is strangely amusing. I realize that’s hardly a solid vote of confidence, but this is a Christmas-themed game released in August; I’m doing the best I can with the material. So… Happy Holidays! No? Still no? Ah well, one of these days it’ll be applicable.


EDIT 9.7: A recent update to the game now gives you the option to increase the amount of extra lives to 20 or 30. One could argue this would make the game too easy (and it does), but hey, at least we all get to see the ending now.


  1. I have no idea why the developer used these screenshots for the marketplace. The game’s actual display fills the entire screen, and the colors are not washed out, as they appear here. Still not much of a looker, but these shots aren’t helping. At all. 
  2. Formerly known as ‘Microsoft Paint’ visuals. Makes it an easier pill for Developers to swallow, less of me dumping on their artistic skills. Thanks Soosh! 
  3. At one point, Santa sounds more than a little bitter discussing his divorce from Mrs. Claus. Given how many varied opponents he faces throughout, Santa Slay really could have used a level where he faces down his ex-wife. DLC or a sequel, perhaps? 
  4. Twenty minutes, if you’re good enough. 

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