With all these premium games hitting the iPhone lately, it’s been a while since I have sat down with a good old dumb shooter. By dumb I don’t mean it’s bad, I just mean one of those games that are more about crazy intense action than something that requires a little more thought. These dumb games usually require a huge amount of tapping on the screen and little else. Step to the front then Bomb Commander, a premium tapper in what is becoming a classic iPhone genre in itself.
Bomb Commander sees you fending off an alien invasion in a similar vein to the classic Missile Command. However, while that game required strategic targeting of your arsenal, in order to counter the incoming missiles, Bomb Commander simply requires you to open up a whole enormous can of whoop-ass, and light up the skies with explosion after explosion. This is done by tapping on, or near, any enemies as they descend down the screen towards your planet. This ignites an explosion, which radiates out a short distance, like a shockwave, taking out any other enemies in its path. If they are close enough nearby enemies will ignite causing a chain reaction. Add to that tens of enemies on screen at once, and an almost infinite amount of missiles, and the screen can get pretty intense.
On nearing the end of a level, a boss ship appears requiring you to take (or tap) out its shield generators, before finishing it off with the planets laser fire. On progressing to the next level you are presented with one of two powerups. Laser bomb adds small lasers to your aftershock, which shoots out, igniting any nearby enemies (a pretty cool effect), and then there’s Black hole, which as you guessed it creates black holes anywhere you tap, causing enemies to by sucked in (an even cooler effect!). Finally you have Supernovas, these act like smart bombs. A quick shake of the iPhone will unleash this, and destroy everything on screen (again pretty cool). You are given only 5 so you need to use these wisely.
If you manage to beat the 10 levels then you open up an infinity mode, which lets you simply shoot for high scores… also Sudden Death, a mode where you have no shields.
The game looks pretty good, with some nicely illustrated backgrounds, planetoids and floating space debris. The enemies themselves are a lot simpler in design consisting mainly of spheres, and the odd angular fighter. Menus are easy to navigate and offer more explanation that you would expect from his kind of game.
Solid sound effects and a filmic score on the menu screen fit well with the invasion theme.
It’s dumb fun, with you frantically tapping away on your poor iPhone. The first few levels are enjoyable, especially when you get the powerups and face off against the boss ships. Unfortunately, beyond this it gets very repetitive, not to mention tiring on the old fingers.
Beyond the 10 levels there are a few modes to play through, plus you can post your scores online to brag to friends. However, you probably won’t make it past level 5 or 6, and even if you do complete the game, you’ll probably be too tapped out to continue.
There are plenty of frantic tapping games on the AppStore, from bug squashers to whack-o-moles. Bomb Commander does bring fresh thinking to this genre, but ultimately the genre is, by its very nature, a one trick pony.
Bomb Commander from Anima entertainment is out now for $1.99.