Quick Picks: Dual Sticks – Iphone/IpodTouch

Ever since Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360 (or as my friend Tony calls it: Math Attack!), the dual stick shooter has been a mainstay in casual gaming.  The genre lends itself particularly well to the Iphone as the lack of hardware buttons is easily forgiven by games where you only need to drag your fat thumbs along the screen.  Today I’m looking at 3 dual stick shooters that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed.

1. Meteor Blitz

meteor blitz This is probably the most traditional of the dual stick shooters I’ve played on the Ipod.  In it, you tasked with defending several planets from incoming meteors, aliens, and assorted baddies.  The board loops around rather than giving you a walled level, so if you’re in trouble, you can fly off in one direction and come back at the bottom of the action, you know, like orbiting around a planet.  (Think SuperStardust HD).

The game features refined graphics (not mind blowing, but pleasant, and smooth), and with the amount of stuff going on on screen at times, there is never a hiccup.

There’s a persistent power up system for your three guns (cannon, fire, ice – which each excel at a different type of meteor), speed, grav gun (a tractor beam which lets you pull in a chunk of meteor or unhappy alien and then throw it out causing mass destruction), and boost, which you will use to bust out of ugly situations.

The game features a number of levels for each of the 6 worlds, and each level ends with a boss fight (always the same swirly boss who throws steel balls at you).

The game absolutely nails the pick up and play concept of ipod gaming.  If you take your thumbs off the sticks, the game automatically pauses.  This is incredibly smart and totally necessary, as having to reach for a pause game would undoubtedly end in your certain doom.  Likewise, dropping out of the game will automatically save the game exactly where you are to return whenever.

Essentially, this is the Iphone’s geometry wars.  A must have shooter that can entertain you for a few minutes or a few hours.

Highly Recommended.

2. Minigore

minigore_screenshot01 Minigore riffs on the dual stick shooter as a survival game.  Basically, you play on one level, with adorable and evil fuzzy things constantly coming at you.  Your goal is simply to not die for as long as you can.  You’re assisted in this task by occasionally getting a shotgun or grenade launcher, but most of the time, it’s just you and your trust machine gun, mowing down fuzzy dudes.  You can also occasionally collect enough powerups to become an angry fuzzy dude of your own, ripping the little critters apart just by touching them.

What makes minigore fun, and memorable is it’s unique art style, unlockable characters, and fun tempo.  It’s also priced well, at .99.

The developer seems to put a lot into the game in terms of updates, and it’s easy to recommend if you want something a little different. different feel.


3. Project Phoenix

project phoenix I picked this up for free as part of the appventcalendar.com promotion, and was pleasantly surprised.  This takes the dual shooter genre in the direction of Assault Heroes, except, instead of a progressing level, you’re dropped onto a map, RPG style with a mission (generally to blow up a lot of stuff).  You have a tank to help with this, and as you explore the map you uncover more of it.  The game can get very frantic, and there are a ton of items to buy for your tank with the loot you get for killing baddies.  The game is relatively short (under an hour of play if you’re really working it), but by the end you definitely get the sense of being an unstoppable dual stick killing machine.  If you’re at all good at dual stick shooters, this probably isn’t going to be extremely challenging, but the graphics are great, the maps are big enough to be fun to explore, and there’s enough weapon variety to keep it interesting throughout the missions.

This is one that I’m comfortable recommending, although if the developers came up with a way to have a randomly generated level system, that would greatly add to the replayability, and make this a highly recommended game.  In that vein, I note this game was just released (12/02/09) and per the developer:

“We are already working on an update that will add more levels and some major features to the game in the future, including something really special.”

It’s still easy to recommend with the amount of game already there.  It’s fun, frenetic, and has just the right touch of “something different” to stand out in a sea of shooters.


About Khidr

I'm an entertainment lawyer and musician. One of the two guys who founded this site with the hopes of adding distinct voices to the entertainment industry.