I've been getting a lot of iPhone gaming in this holiday and recently I've spent some time with a new SHMUP from Gamelab Innovation Center entitled Roswell Fighter. Roswell Fighter is a top down, vertical scrolling shooter that has players piloting a bi-plane against endless droves of alien invaders in the 1950s. Let's take a closer look...
Take Flight, Take Aim
I was impressed with the opening video for Roswell Fighter that was nicely rendered and set the premise (aliens invading earth) with a nice bit of humor. The laughs are short lived however as the task at hand has your character battling dozens of enemies through nine tough levels (plus a bonus level). With a constant barrage of enemies, the developers opted to not only give players infinite ammo, but your ship is always firing, so you don't have to worry about controlling that. In fact, the only control players need to concern themselves with is moving their ship out of the line fire (and some minor tap-interaction for mini-games). You can do this with either accelerometer or touch controls. By default, the controls are set to touch and I found that to be my control scheme of choice. To move your ship on screen with touch, simply touch and drag where you want your plane to go. Additionally, you can double tap a spot on the screen to have your ship quickly zip over to where you double tapped, a control mechanic you will have to use often to survive.
Survival is all about not getting hit by enemy fire or objects. Thankfully, Roswell Fighter doesn't require you to be perfect, as each level starts with three lives and each life has an actually health gauge as opposed to the insta-kill system of many games in this genre. That doesn't mean Roswell Fighter is an easy game, however. Without even having completed all nine levels, I can tell you that the alien invasion is a staunch one with plenty of opposition. Screen space is tight by design and precise movements are a requirement to survive. There are also six bosses to contend with that further spice things up.
To help you battle off the invaders, Roswell Fighter includes a variety of powerups and special abilities. I probably haven't seen all of these as I'm struggling to get through the game, but to date I've seen powerups that give you two extra mini fighters shooting along with you, a lightning bolt stream, and a variety of bombs.
Powerups and the steady flow of thirty-plus different enemies are two things that help keep the screen buzzing with activity. The star icons that are dropped by fallen enemies also keep the screen hectic. Sometimes I thought there was maybe too much going on screen at once, but the framerate never drops and the visuals look great throughout. The art style and blend of 2D/3D visuals and the 50s theme are cool.
All in all, Roswell Fighter does a lot right and it's a solid entry to the genre for the App Store.