If you’re an old school gamer, then I’m sure you have some appreciation for top down shooters. Back in the day they were the staple of arcades everywhere. You hopped into your virtual plane and/or spaceship, and went to town on thousands of bad dudes. Well Roswell HD hopes to scratch that old school itch, with some modern game design touches of course.
Roswell sticks pretty tightly to the top down shooter formula. Simply put the formula is: airplane + massive amount of bad dudes = chaotic fun. You are tasked with surviving as the camera constantly pushes you forward towards the end of level. You are given a few lives, each containing a limited amount of health. Of course there are all kinds of crazy power ups dispersed throughout the level. There are extra ships that come to reinforce you, wider and more powerful shots for your ship, health and life power ups and plenty more.
There is a ton of different types of enemies in the game, which is important in a game like this, because if enemy variety is lacking, the game will get old super quick. Each enemy has their own subtle things they do, and it is important that you learn how each one moves in order to avoid being killed.
A nice modern touch added to Roswell HD is moving obstacles in the level. One in particular that stands out are the giant rotating buzz saws. This really adds a new layer of challenge because not only is there issue of a million enemies flying around from every direction, but there is also giant objects that will kill you just as efficiently.
The controls in Roswell are simple, and pretty effective. You simply touch anywhere on the screen and move your finger in the direction you want the plane to travel. The shooting is all handled automatically, meaning your ship is constantly firing. Your job is simply to avoid enemy fire and put your ship in a location where it can hit the enemies. It works fairly well, but i did find my fingers and hands getting in my way. The frantic nature of the game makes it so you really need to see every inch of the screen, and having my hand in view caused me to get shot on a number of occasions. I honestly can’t think of a better way to control the game, and whether or not the control problems are a fault of the game, or the device itself, it’s still a major factor in considering whether or not to make the purchase.
In total there are 11 stages in Roswell, each with 3 difficulty levels. It took me about 2 and half hours to beat the game on medium, so it’s not overly long. If you were to play through the whole game on each difficulty I would estimate about 8 to 9 hours depending on your skill level. That said, I don’t know why you would, as nothing is that different as you change difficulty, other then hard being brutally hard.
The game looks good visually, but it’s not as crisp as I feel it should be. There is an awful lot going on on the screen, so I could see frame rate being an issue if the graphics were too sharp, but I think some improvement is in order. That’s not to say the graphics look bad, but it definitely isn’t pushing the iPad’s hardware capabilities.
The sound fares much better then graphics here. The music is top notch, and really plays well with the theme of each level. The sound effects of the guns and explosions are also top notch, and I never found myself longing for more variety in the sound department.
Overall, Roswell HD is a pretty solid top down shooter that does some interesting new things. It doesn’t have the best graphics, and the controls can be a little annoying, unless of course you have tiny hands. The game life also leaves a little to be desired. Still, if you are a fan of this old school genre, the Roswell is perfectly good homage to the days of yore.
Roswell Fighter HD is out now on iPad for $1.99
|Second Opinion: Nigel Wood
I have to disagree with my colleague Dave a little here. While I do agree with his opinion of the gameplay itself, and would score the iPhone version a 3.5. For me the jump to quasi-HD on iPad brings an almost totally different experience to it. Taking me back to the days of the table arcade cabinets… it really has that feel to it. I think the graphics look fantastic on the iPad and take this game to another level compared to that of it’s hand-held sibling.