Reviews

Dark Raider Review

Have you ever paid too much for something you cannot return? After doing so, most people have a terrible sinking feeling that often produces some mild nausea, and then a brief period of time where one tries to justify the purchase. Time passes, and this justification soon turns to resentment. Unless you enjoy this gut-wrenching path to regret, do not purchase Dark Raider.

To review a game, one must normally play a game to the completion of its story, or if the game has no story one should play until they have played enough of the game to understand its nuances and are able to pass judgment. I always make sure to follow this guideline. Try as I might, I could not play Dark Raider to completion. Sadly, I could not even play to the completion of the first world. As such I would understand if one would immediately glance over my opinion, but hear me out that you may come to understand my negativity.

From the get-go Dark Raider feels like a poorly made straight to dvd sci-fi movie. The game opens with cheesy voice acting that only serves to cheapen the experience. Dark Raider’s story is bland, and the main character is a straight visual rip-off of Indiana Jones. The creativity is very limited, and the game feels more like a collection of pseudo-scientific themes, the likes of which make up the entirety of movies like National Treasure. I am not saying that there is no place for themes of this sort, but simply that they are executed poorly in Dark Raider. Why is there a sphinx sitting out on what looks to be a beautiful green lawn, and why is it the same size as a bush?

Dark Raider is an adventure game that aspires to the likes of Zelda. As Link’s Awakening is one of my all time favorites, I can guarantee that Dark Raider falls short of the special place that the top-down Zelda games hold in gaming history and by a long shot. Of course, that is a harsh standard to judge by but the developers chose to compare their game to Zelda on the itunes page. Taking that into account, it is apparent upon first booting up the game that there is an immense gap between the proposed and actual value of this game.

The flaws of Dark Raider can mostly be corralled into one specific statement, that statement being: Dark Raider is poorly designed for its platform. Play sessions must be long enough to beat each “temple”, there simply is no quick-save while you are attempting to make your way through each portion of the overworld. This is antithetical to the trend of games on iPhone, but it has been done before in games such as Galaxy on Fire. The difference here is the frustrating difficulty and constant deaths that stem from controls. Once dead, the player is simply booted back to the overworld with no sense of progress whatsoever; leaving little to no incentive to go at it a second or third time. Almost done with a section that you have attempted several times but have to turn of the iphone? You are out of luck.

drgameplay1

Dark Raider’s faux-directional pad simply does not suffice. Had I been holding something along the lines of an Xbox controller, Dark Raider would have felt much better to me, because the game requires a degree of precision that is simply not accessible with the given controls. Dark Raider feels like an old game, but not in a way that brings a smile to your face. The puzzles are tired and easily solved, the difficulty is aggravating, and the graphical style is uninspired.

I cannot emphasize enough how crippled this game is by its controls. I found myself in anguish when trying to hit enemies that move so easily across the screen while I tried in vain to simply not run into them, let alone shoot them. I understand that perhaps the intention was that the player keeps their thumb down and simply moves it about similar to controlling a nub on an old laptop, but I found that the range of motion required for this kind of control necessitates that I pick up my thumb simply because the control is too large for me to use it any other way. For a frame of reference, the game controls nowhere near as well as idracula, where aiming and walking were two separate controls.

I am not interested in finding out more about this game, and I am not one of those people that will wait for the last level when things inevitably always ‘get really good’ or the game ‘hits its stride’. A game should be fun for the majority of the time played, and unfortunately I cannot say this about my time spent with Dark Raider.

All of these issues are compounded by the fact that the game costs a full 8 dollars on itunes, a price normally reserved for premium content. Even with a price drop, I would hesitate to make a commitment to this game. Not purchasing this game is not simply a good way to save money, but also a way to condemn those that promise a Zelda but deliver something nowhere near eight dollars worth of quality and usability. I do not mean to focus on the Zelda comparison too much, but it is simply a high water mark for the genre that Dark Raider sits far below.

drindyOne may still ask if the reviewer has indeed given the game a fair shot. An analogous situation may help explain; obtain a job hand shoveling some sort of feces and if it takes you longer than an hour to realize that you are not having a good time and probably never will, feel free to question the validity of the review. There are, of course, always the weird ones that like that sort of self-inflicted punishment.

Graphics and Presentation

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While the presentation of the game is poor, and the art design off-putting, the actual technical element of the graphics is not horrible. The lighting works well, and the game runs smoothly. Animations can be sub-par, not to mention the Indy ripoff.

Audio

2-stars_sm

The in-game sounds and music are not shabby, but can wear on the user after some time. The ability to listen to my own music would have helped.

Gameplay

1pt5-stars_sm

The concept behind this game is tired, and it is executed on an absolutely condemnable level. Playing the game is frustrating due to sloppy controls and a bad saving system. The structure of the levels is interesting, as there is no work to get to the various dungeons, unfortunately there is little fun to be had upon arrival.

Gamelife

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People who manage to push past the flaws can feasibly find a solid adventure, but to get to that point it may take far too long.  The 8 dollar price point is unfair, this money could easily be better spent getting five (if not more) games of better quality.

Overall

1pt5-stars


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  • Kiloton

    Game freaking sucks ass. You could see it coming when you saw how stubborn the dev was in addressing that the controls were horrible. This is what you call “the stink of the autuer” aka the Denis Dyack syndrome.

  • Rock $ Rolla

    Uncool game

  • Legend.inc

    i dont know why you would even bother reviewing this game!

  • Nathan Mustafa

    If iPGN only reviewed the best of the best, there would be no point in penning our opinions and we could simply post a list of games. By critiquing games that run the gamut of quality, we do our best to provide the readers with a comprehensive understanding of the entire landscape of iPhone games. So while we cannot review every game, if we have decided to review a certain game that turns out bad it is in the reader’s interest that we review it, because it will hopefully aid the reader in the decision process had they been considering a purchase.

  • TB

    This game is a improved version of an old Atari ST classic called Time Bandit. See here: http://www.gamespot.com/ast/strategy/timebandit/player_review.html?id=634665&tag=player-reviews;continue;1

    The game requires some skill and patience, and appreciation for retro games. If you lack the patience and skill to make it past the first level then practice more, don’t blame it on the game.

    And yeah there’s an update coming that adds twin stick controls like iDracula, and slower and fewer enemies at the start to lower the learning curve. Once that comes out you should retry this and get past the first level.

  • Nathan Mustafa

    I usually think it is fair game to formulate my thoughts on games immediately after they deem themselves worthy to be put up for sale and take my money. Also, some of my favorite games are the classic Mega Man games. Not only do I have an appreciation for retro games, but I can also discern between a quality challenge and a poorly designed game. Why change the controls if there is nothing wrong besides the player’s apparent lack of skill?

  • Jay

    Haha, I enjoy these game review that criticize more than praise

  • habib

    I give this reviewer a 0 out of 5 stars.

  • Sunny the Troll Hunter

    This message is addressed to habib:

    I cannot understand why you would give the reviewer a 0 out of 5 stars. The reviewer was at least professional enough to give detailed reasons as to why such a low score was given; a step omitted by you, I might add. I can see only a few reasons why this could be.

    First: you disagree with the actual review. If this is the case, then you have no need for personal attacks against the reviewer himself. It is said that in any argument, when the other side resorts to personal attacks then they have automatically lost. So it seems for you. You have failed to give any reasons as to your so-called “rating.” You have failed to provide the same common courtesy that the reviewer did in providing constructive criticism. You have failed in your duty as a party in the debate by resorting to baseless personal attacks.

    Second: you may be an interested party in the game development and are unhappy with the review given your game. If this is the case, the argument provided in my previous paragraph still holds true. In addition, you should know that the reviewer is not alone in having such a low opinion of this game. For example, Slide to Play gave it a 1 out of 4 stars, while commenters on the Dark Raider page of Touch Arcade also voiced low opinions about the game. It would seem that this reviewer is not only accurate with their criticisms, there is a consensus among iPhone gamers about how poorly this game met their expectations. Essentially, you should be more concerned with making a good game that people will enjoy and pricing it reasonably than personally attacking reviewers.

    Third: you are a troll. If this is the case, as I suspect it is, then you are the lowest form of life on the internet. You share this distinction with the Craig’s List Killer and Pedophiles. Your actions benefit no one but yourself. To troll on a site that is devoted to giving honest and useful evaluations of products that people will spend money on is not only despicable, it is dishonorable. I have made it my job to find trolls, wherever they may reside and whatever form they take, and attack them with logic and reason. By failing to fight back in a similar manner or failing to respond at all, you will show me to be correct.

    No matter which of the three categories you fit into, you are unwelcome on a site that serves the consumer and not the developers or the self-important trolls like yourself. While some of the reviews are almost too generous (4.5-5 and Editor’s Choice continually!) for the games that they review, the consumer is still the one who benefits most. As a consumer myself, I find sites such as this to be extremely useful. Normally I don’t attack trolls, but your ignorant and childish comment pushed me over the edge. Do the site a favor and remove yourself from our company permanently.

    This message is addressed to Nathan:

    Good review. I have to say, I was looking forward to this game. After reading ALL the dismal reviews, I thought twice. This game had so much potential, but they fell far short of the bar they set for themselves. Comparing their game to Zelda and Gauntlet certainly led me to believe that they would at least be able to produce a product of marginal quality. Unfortunately, I was obviously mistaken. At least I didn’t waste $8! To all on the site: keep up the good work!

  • http://www.RockingPocketGames.com RPGGuy

    The 1.1 update has been submitted and addresses the difficulty level by slowing down enemies, reducing their number, and making them easier to hit. The controls have been improved with a twin stick method that lets you aim and shoot
    independently.

    Slide to Play and iphone-game-reviews.com both liked the game other than the controls. iphone-game-reviews said it’s an absolutely must buy once this has been addressed. People at TA are saying it could become a cult classic and some are liking the difficulty I had originally set. The new version will be easier and let you play more into the game
    and hopefully you’ll be hooked once you get to the more complex levels which this reviewer did not see.

    When you buy a game you have it for the rest of your life, not a couple hours like these reviewers have to spend on it. The reviewer probably went into each of the levels, died and gave up. The game requires you to learn the levels and every second time you play through it you get a permanent health upgrade which makes every level in the game easier.

    2.5 stars for graphics and 2 stars for audio is not in line with other reviews.

    From iphone-game-reviews.com:
    “The graphics are nothing less than beautiful for a top-down game, with nicely done lighting effects, as environments change from light to dark. You can even occasionally light torches in dark areas, which spread an aura of light that is really beautiful. The game has 10 soundtracks, great 3D immersive sound which really amplifies the game experience.”

    The reviewer failed to mention it has 3D sound so you can hear explosions and gates opening off in the distance and relative to your position. It takes advantage of all the iphone features. Since the reviewer never made it past the first level he only heard 1 song out of 10. As you progress in the game the songs get more and more intense to match the level of action. Why would you want to play your own music? This isn’t a casual word game. The music sets the mood of the game.

    In short the game has a lot of content and gameplay that was missed by this reviewer because he thought the game was too hard and couldn’t progress. Fair enough. This has been fixed in the 1.1 update. Try it again once that comes out.

  • Nathan Mustafa

    Slide to play liked the other aspects of your game so much that they gave it a “1, avoid”.

    From the beloved iphone game reviews: “Overall, I would recommend Dark Raider, if it didn’t have such a bad control system that totally spoils the whole gameplay. The game is also a bit overpriced”
    and “Other than the bad control system (and the resultant horrid and difficult gameplay)”
    and”The control system is bad, really bad. ”

    To play games you must control them.

    Next time I write a review I will be sure to check around other sites to make sure that I agree 100 percent with them before I even dare to render my own unique opinion.

    I did have the choice of playing it for more than two hours (In fact, many of the games I review the content is over in under two hours but I will play them longer anyways). You are wrong in saying that I will have this game forever, as I type this it is headed toward the recycle bin.

    I had no bias against this game going in, anything you say will of course be positive. It would seem that you would not have to be so highly on the defensive if the game were doing well both critically and financially. Unfortunately many major sites have failed to review your game, and those who have all have very bad things to say about it. I am not going to re-review your game, my deepest apologies that it was not good enough the first time around. Advertising exists.

    Readers, I would not have responded to this because frankly it makes me look egotistical but I genuinely care to ensure that you do not purchase a bad game. The guy talking to us here is the creator of the game, I understand that he is upset, this is just a sad situation and we should all move along.

  • RPGGuy

    The Slide to Play review was called a scandal by TA readers.

    I have responded very quickly to fix the problems some people had with the controls and difficulty. Once the difficulty and controls are adjusted in the update the experience you had will be completely different than what others will have from then on.

    The App Store is wonderful in that you can get feedback from players and make adjustments to a game. If you don’t give us a chance to respond from criticism and correct our mistakes then you are an unfair and bad reviewer and I would not recommend to other developers that you send him free copies of your games.

    Here’s a couple of videos for you to show the changes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww8IkUHDLvQ

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0WvoBOSMpQ

    There is a lite version of the game coming out so people can judge for themselves.

  • Nathan Mustafa

    Hey man, I never censored what you said. Note that while I disagree with you I am still leaving your stuff up. You have a chance to improve, but my review is final. I understand what it is like to have someone not enjoy a piece of your work, and we are all prone to thinking that what we put out is the best of the best. It is obvious that you are very distraught and have resorted to personal attacks on my credibility.

  • Omar

    Tried it and sadly to say that it is bad.
    The game itself has a homebrew style to it that fails to keep you intrested in playing it.

  • http://twitter.com/daveleclair iPGN-Dave

    *Dave holds tongue… until the podcast, in which Dave can say whatever he wants*
    Somebody tighten my leash.

  • What?

    How could you give Ow My Balls a higher score? Did you buy iFart too?

  • http://twitter.com/daveleclair iPGN-Dave

    I cant look at this post anymore until sunday…

  • Nathan Mustafa

    I like how Habib, TB, What? and RPGGuy are all the same person…. for future reference, when you comment on some sort of internet forum it does not change your IP and your ISP just because you change your username and make a fake email like unicorn@unicorn.gov…….

  • revolver.1

    I totally agree with the reviewer as being a Brit I paid £4.99 for this utter dross having been sucked in by what looked like fast moving dungeon crawling action but in the limited time I have played this game the only crawling I have done is of the literal kind as you creep round corners hopiing there isn’t another enemy waiting for you that you have absolutely no hope of hitting.

    Seeing as the developer is posting on here non-stop can I ask of him in any one of his guises could I please have at least £3 of my none back cos even when the update hits is there any chance in any galaxy or on any of the worlds that your character visits is this game worth £4.99.

    Have you seen the quality that gameloft have hit out with recently giving us two of the most amazing handheld games ever that have elevated the iPhone/touch to a all new level of certain dominance of the Market, said games being terminator salvation and assassins creed both of these titles are at the top end of the Market in both price and quality and for you to put your game in the same bracket is laughable.

    I’m also the only person to have reviewed this game on the app store so judging by how many peeps are on here complaining about the game have to think the only thing your game has engendered is apathy among the masses and if that’s the only thing your game has going for it then man are you in the s**t.

  • RPGGuy

    I’m sorry you guys had a difficult time controlling it. There are videos of youtube of me playing it without any problems. It takes practice. I think you are lifting your fingers or tapping the screen instead of holding it and sliding your finger inside the dpad circle.

    To compare the work of 1 person to a company like Nintendo or say Gameloft which has 4000 employees is not fair. Give me a break. This is an indie title.

    The new Terminator game says it has 90 minutes of gameplay. Dark Raider takes about 10 hours to complete, and there’s 3 difficulty settings, and yet it scored lower in gamelife. This makes no sense. When you break things down there needs to be a comparison instead of pulling numbers out of a hat.

    I know there are people out there that want games that are more than a 5 minute distraction on their phone. I wanted to make a game that is a challenge. The more you practice, the better you get, and the more content will be unlocked as you progress through the story. If you thought it was too hard and gave up, that says more about your skill and patience level than the game. Gamers pumped millions of dollars into coin-op machines and tried over and over again to get as far as they could. This game is for those people. People that rise up to a challenge and don’t quit when a game kicks their ass.

    In case you didn’t know, Dark Raider is a remake of a 24 year old Atari ST game called Time Bandit which was considered a classic. The original only had 1 weapon and if you lost your lives you’d have to start the entire game over, not just a single level, so this is a lot more forgiving than the original. Saying that I didn’t meet the bar that I set for myself is BS. I knew I wanted to remake that game and put my own twists on it with different weapons and full 360 degree movement.

    The game will be on sale for $1 when the new update comes out with easier controls and difficulty. I hope it will find the right audience when more people try it.

  • Sunny

    “I’m sorry you guys had a difficult time controlling it. There are videos of youtube of me playing it without any problems. It takes practice. I think you are lifting your fingers or tapping the screen instead of holding it and sliding your finger inside the dpad circle.”

    Why should any handheld game require practice? The learning curve should be a few minutes for a small, simple game such as yours. Also, you are the developer of the game, and have probably had a lot of practice with the horrible controls during development. If EVERYONE is saying that your controls suck, and only you are defending them, then I think you are wrong. You win some, you lose some. This game was a loser. Move on.

    “To compare the work of 1 person to a company like Nintendo or say Gameloft which has 4000 employees is not fair. Give me a break. This is an indie title.”

    You were the one to compare your game to Zelda and Gauntlet on the App page, not anyone else. You set the bar very high for your game, especially with the $7.99 price tag. When people see “Zelda…Gauntlet…$7.99…” they expect quality. It should be obvious from the backlash that you’ve received that the quality that everyone was expecting was not present. Again, the masses are right and you are wrong. The game was a loser. Move on.

    “The new Terminator game says it has 90 minutes of gameplay. Dark Raider takes about 10 hours to complete, and there’s 3 difficulty settings, and yet it scored lower in gamelife. This makes no sense. When you break things down there needs to be a comparison instead of pulling numbers out of a hat.”

    A significant part of the “Game Life” category is the propensity that one would WANT to play the game again. If people don’t even want to finish Dark Raider’s first level, then why would they want to repeat it on Medium and then Hard. That’s why your game rated so abysmally in this category, and why a fun game like Terminator got ranked higher.

    “I know there are people out there that want games that are more than a 5 minute distraction on their phone. I wanted to make a game that is a challenge. The more you practice, the better you get, and the more content will be unlocked as you progress through the story. If you thought it was too hard and gave up, that says more about your skill and patience level than the game. Gamers pumped millions of dollars into coin-op machines and tried over and over again to get as far as they could. This game is for those people. People that rise up to a challenge and don’t quit when a game kicks their ass.”

    Of course. THE ENTIRE MARKET FOR YOUR GAME is at fault. You obviously are perfect, as are all of your creations. People who hate your game are obviously all losers who don’t have more than a five-second attention span. If only about 140 people wanted to buy your game out of possible MILLIONS, then that is their fault and not yours. When I pick up a new PC game, one that is vastly more complex than yours, it usually takes me half an hour at most to learn the new controls and menus depending on how different the game is from anything I’ve played before. I pay $30-50 for these games. I don’t want to spend more than a few minutes learning controls for a game that should be worth at most $3. It is evident that most others agree with me.

    “In case you didn’t know, Dark Raider is a remake of a 24 year old Atari ST game called Time Bandit which was considered a classic. The original only had 1 weapon and if you lost your lives you’d have to start the entire game over, not just a single level, so this is a lot more forgiving than the original. Saying that I didn’t meet the bar that I set for myself is BS. I knew I wanted to remake that game and put my own twists on it with different weapons and full 360 degree movement.”

    Yes, one of your alternate names told us about that. Maybe you should have stated that originally, and people wouldn’t have mysteriously compared your game with Zelda and Gauntlet. How coincidental that people would choose those games to compare yours with. I wonder where they got that idea from…

    “The game will be on sale for $1 when the new update comes out with easier controls and difficulty. I hope it will find the right audience when more people try it.”

    So you just screwed the people who paid the full $7.99 out of 7 bucks? I hope that they all get refunds. A lower price doesn’t fix a crappy game, by the way; it only masks the foul odor of failure. Again, the game was a loser. You win some, you lose some. The best thing to do is to just move on. I think that you might have hurt yourself more than you know by trying so hard to defend your game. Basically you call everyone who disagrees with you an idiot and insist that the VAST majority of people are wrong and only you are right. Your arrogance will probably keep people away from any other titles you release in the future. You will at least not do as well as you otherwise could have. Get over yourself, get over Dark Raider, get on with other stuff.

  • RPGGuy

    I am moving on… to Dark Raider 2.

  • RPGGuy

    Not everyone shares your opinions. In fact the minority… There are 5 reviews in the US App Store, two 5 stars, two 4 stars, and one 1 star from someone that didn’t like the controls (maybe it was one of you).

    We’ll find out what the vast majority of the public thinks of the game when the lite version comes out. If they don’t like it I’ll work on something else.

    You guys can sit here and spew negativity all you want. I have better things to do, like creating fun games that entertain people. Goodbye. Keep treating developers like crap and you won’t have any games to review.

  • Mikey PewPewPew

    This is the internet buhgawd! If I don’t have to meet you face to face, I can slag you all I want! I have no fear when we are seperated by miles and mile of cable!

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    The developer just added more control options to the game, while the touch controls remain annoying and hard to use, the accelerometer controls are an improvement. In addition, the price has temporarily been dropped to 99 cents. If the price only goes up by a couple of dollars, it would be reasonable.

    I still want save anywhere functionality, but at least now that a more suitable control scheme is available it feels like the difficulty has decreased significantly. Now I am not fighting controls and enemies, just the enemies. I maintain that the default controls are poor and are a source of difficulty. I also think having to struggle to learn how to control a game is crazy (megaman largely only used the dpad and two other buttons and still managed to be very challenging). The addition of accelerometer controls made this issue nearly evaporate. One issue of control remains: I find myself snagging on to walls, corners and objects to no end.

    Good on you for fixing this RPGguy, while you wouldn’t admit your game was flawed you went ahead and fixed one of the biggest flaws anyways. Fixing the controls is as good as an admittance of a problem in my book. No hard feelings.

    If you were on the fence about this one, the 99 cent price point and improved controls should make it more worth your while. Myself, I will wait for a better save functionality so I can play the game in smaller sessions but I will be messing around with it in anticipation.

  • Xenos

    Umm… ppl whats going one here? Nathan Mustafa – As a critic of iPod games, you have a duty to update your reviews(as STP do), its unfair to hard working developers. As you have now hypocritically done.

  • Human

    Shut up, RPGGuy. And if you respond to this than you are not using your time to create better games.

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