Eurocenter take on the crowded shooting gallery genre with Cocoto Magic Circus. So, does it score a bullseye, or miss the mark entirely?
The shooting gallery genre is big business on the App Store, which can be seen by the sheer amount of titles. They all try to do something new or unique, ranging from sniping to hunting. But, however you dress them up they all boil down to one simple game mechanic, ‘tap to shoot’. The iPhone can’t replicate the same light gun experience that the Wii-mote or console peripheral can, so the gameplay in a game like this can be lacklustre at best. Step up to the plate then Cocoto Magic Circus, an extremely polished product, which offers enough variation in the gameplay to keep you hooked.
Originally released on PS2 and more recently appearing on Wii, Cocoto Magic Circus is a carnival style shooter starring the Cocoto characters – as seen in their previous iPhone game Cocoto Kart Online. While not a well known, or established set of mascot characters, they succeed in pulling you in to their strange game world. It sees you helping them save their fairy friend from the clutches of an evil clown. As with any mad and evil clown, he’ll offer you various challenges as you battle his minions through various shooting mini games to free her.
This is where Cocoto Magic Circus succeeds, by taking the generic tap to shoot mechanic and turns it into a challenging, and more importantly ‘fun’ game experience. Across various themed worlds you are confronted by a range different challenges. As with all gallery shooters you’ll be tapping targets for points. But Cocoto Magic CIrcus throws variation in to the mix to keep things interesting. One minute you’ll be shooting advancing evil creatures, another you’ll be partaking in a variation of the card game snap, by shooting matching targets only. Each themed area also presents a ‘save fairy’ game, where you must kill all creatures advancing on poor fairy to save her, only to have her snatched once more by the clown. These areas end in a boss confrontation requiring you to shoot furiously at the boss, while avoiding in coming attacks.
Each level has a time limit, and a hit quota which you must meet before advancing to the next level. There are power ups which you can collect or avoid which float on balloons that for the most part exist to obscure you’re view. But for every useful power-up, such as extra time, or slow motion, there are ones that hinder you. Screen flip is one particular nasty one, that flips your orientation upside down requiring you to flip the iPhone to continue playing. Others add screen shake or turn the lights out, making aiming particularly difficult.
The game offers you three difficulty levels. I would avoid easy mode entirely… it’s… well…. too easy! Instead go for the challenge with normal or hard settings. Should you complete the game though there is unlimited replay-ability with the online multiplayer. This takes each mini game and pits you against a friend or random player online. Here you must out-shoot your opponent to win that level, which takes place in a ‘best of’ style shootout.
Bringing a Wii shooter to iPhone could have been a recipe for disaster. But Cocoto Magic Circus works exceedingly well in replicating a similar experience. The higher production values expected on Wii translate beautifully on the iPhone, with great cell shaded 3D models married with 2D style pop-up book sets. The addition of power ups that hinder you as you frantically tap the targets adds a greater degree of timing and accuracy that no other gun game on iPhone can beat.
For $3.99 then I can heartily recommend that you take a look at what Cocoto Magic Circus has to offer… even if you have played more tap shooters than you can shake a stick at.