Alpha Zero is looking to redefine the mobile shmup
After spending thirty years with either a mouse/keyboard or joypad in hand, game developers are still adjusting to the brave new world of touch controls. It’s been years since us gamers happily migrated to smart phones and tablets, but in many ways mobile gaming is still untamed territory.
New genres have emerged or matured on iOS and Android — genres like tower defense and endless runner games — that seem tailor made for the platform. Other genres — adventure games and turn based strategy — have seen a resurgence, their control schemes an obvious choice for touch.
Yet some genres haven’t had it so easy. First person shooters are generally terrible. Platformers can be rough too. These genres are currently implemented in ways that seem anachronistic on a touch screen. The best they hope to do is imitate physical controllers with virtual d-pads and buttons. I would compare it to when film first emerged as a medium. It was a novelty before it was an art form. Artists didn’t quite know how to use it yet. They toyed around, experimented — they filmed stage performances of plays. It was start, but they hadn’t quite figured out how to make the most of this new medium.
Developers are learning though. Alpha Zero by FUNKOI is an attempt to realize the potential of the side scrolling shoot’em up on a touch platform. Instead of taking the easy route and throwing a virtual controller on your screen, FUNKOI promises to implement a true multi-touch control scheme — the first of its kind, according to them.
Alpha Zero is a 2.5d shmup, a concept that should be familiar to most. You fly a ship around in space, avoiding torrents of projectiles while firing a torrent of your own. You’ll be able to upgrade your ship as you progress through the game’s campaign, fighting huge bosses along the way. None of this is revolutionary, but if FUNKOI makes good on their promise of a new, touch-native control scheme, Alpha Zero could be step forward for the genre.
There’s no release date yet, but Alpha Zero will be coming to both the iPhone and iPad. I, for one, am interested to see how it controls.