When is a twin stick shooter not a twin stick shooter? When the developers trade in their sticks for tilt. Tilt to Live is an arcade shooter that combines the frantic pace of games like Everyday Shooter with the tilt mechanics of games like Labyrinth. The end result is a crazy, challenging, perfect shooter experience that could only happen on the iPhone.

It feels strange calling Tilt to Live a shooter, because you technically don’t shoot anything. You’ll navigate a small arrow-shaped ship around the screen by tilting your iDevice, all the while avoiding the relentless pursuit of some deadly red dots. You’ll need to destroy the dots to survive, but you can’t shoot – so how do you do it? Weapons randomly appear around the screen and provide a short but effective combat ability to your ship. You’ll detonate nukes by touching a red power up, send out a deadly pulse wave after grabbing a purple one, or turn into a spiky circle of destruction after snagging the blue.

Tilt to Live

The weapons provide you with a great way to defend your ship, but getting to those weapons can be tough business. The red dots will be drawn towards you constantly, almost like your ship was a slow-working magnet. You can use this to your advantage, luring them close to detonate a nuke or leading them away from the wall to create an opening and make a hasty escape – but most of the time their constantly growing presence just leads to a painfully quick death.

Challenging doesn’t even begin to describe what Tilt to Live offers, but then again, neither does “fun.” This is one of those rare iPhone experiences that avid gamers won’t only enjoy, they’ll savour. Like Bejeweled 2 or Canabalt, Tilt to Live offers up that kind of quick fix, pick-up-and-play gaming that will please players time and time again. And yes – we’re saying this about a game based on tilt control.

Many games on the iPhone have had poor tilt functionality, so we wouldn’t blame you if you were a little sceptical. Even if a game works, as soon as you change position things tend to get all wonky. Tilt to Live solves this problem by asking you how you’ll be holding the device at the start of every game. You can choose from a top-down 0 degree angle, a normal 45 degree angle, and a straight up 90 degree angle which most of us would use when lying down (that’s probably why they call this option “sleepy.”) Of all the options though, it’s the custom setting that I found myself using again and again. Once you get comfortable, you simply tap “set” and you’ll get perfect tilt responsiveness for however you’re holding the device. Need to change it? Just tap the screen at any time in the game and you can set it again.

Tilt to Live

The only real concern we had with Tilt to Live is that, for players who lack patience and skill, the experience will be fairly short lived. In your initial attempts Tilt to Live is a game that will be played in 1-2 minute intervals at most. Surviving past that is nearly impossible without practice, and even after a solid week of play I’ve only just scratched the 4 minute mark. When the game starts you’ll be limited to only 3 weapons, and you’ll unlock more as you progress and earn achievements. Considering how blisteringly difficult things can get, unlocking all of the additional weapons may be an insurmountable challenge for some. Still, if you’re both persistent and patient, you can be wielding lightning and posting scores in the millions in no time.

Games like Minigore and iDracula may live up to the title of “twin stick shooter” more faithfully than Tilt to Live (which admittedly has no sticks), but no other iPhone game has captured the spirit of that genre as well as this has. Addictive, challenging, unique – I can’t think of a title that’s better suited for the hardcore amongst us. With gameplay that’s accessible to anybody yet challenging for everybody, Tilt to Live is a must buy for iPhone enthusiasts looking for an old school arcade style challenge.