Before this year’s E3 event, if you had told me that one of the most promising “shooter” announcements of 2014 would come from Nintendo, I would have suggested that you consult a psychiatrist. GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark are but distant …
Brian Anthony Thornton's career as a writer and critic began at age 14 when he created a fanzine called The Super Nintendo War Journal for his schoolyard chums. Since those humble beginnings he has worked as a community manager for several gaming forums, has had short fiction published in literary magazines, and has even covered a convention or two.
- Shiva: The Time Bender, the new endless runner from Tiny Mogul Games, works well as an introduction to the genre, but its lack of difficulty and shallow gameplay could turn off seasoned fans hoping for more substance.In Shiva: TTB, time may be the only thing on your side, as legions of enemies from history's most pitfall ridden locations do their worst in an attempt to thwart a punk rock caveman from capturing a plethora of crystal orbs littering the timescape…or something like that. The narrative isn't very important here, but it does tie in nicely with the game's main mechanic.The gameplay here is pretty standard stuff. Shiva - your player character - jogs, hops, and slays his way through time and space, all the while collecting brightly shining orbs that can be used to upgrade his appearance or weaponry by using the in-game market.The controls should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played an endless runner for a decent length of time: Tapping the left side of your touchscreen causes our green haired protag to hop in the air, and tapping the right side causes him to swing his mighty trident at any manner of foe that stands in his way. And what happens if he misses one of those swings or jumps? That's where the Time Bender mechanic comes into play.
- Nightbird Trigger X, the new puzzle/shooter hybrid from COLOPL Inc. had potential for greatness locked in its sights. But in the end, a forced social element and a few perplexing monetization calls caused it to miss its target.Trapped behind the concrete walls of a future metropolis, our cannon wielding anti-hero must use expert timing and a touch of luck to shatter the core of each room's security system while hypnotic patterns of living neon light shield it from incoming fire, giving up only fleeting chances for a clear shot; and all the while, under the relentless ticking of a time-bomb set to blow. Now, I'm not totally clear on just why our man in white was breaking and entering in the first place (the intro video was heavy on action but light on info), but thankfully the set-up doesn't matter too much with this one.And at least the gameplay is fairly straightforward. Each room is set up pretty much the same way. On an elevated platform on the left side of the screen stands our player character. In the middle of the screen we have a psychedelic swarm of primary shapes, simple machines, particles, and light that weaves around the playfield to and fro, blocking the player's laser beams from hitting the previously mentioned core that rests on the far right of the screen and acts as a doorway to the next room.
- I'd imagine that Force of Habit, the Bristol based developers behind the zany arena shoot-em-up Toast Time, conjured up the idea for this game through a cocktail of sleep deprivation and missed meals. I can hear their mad proclamations in my head as I type: "We'd love to treat the team to a nice breakfast of eggs and soldiers, but our toaster's run off to save the world…"Toast Time begins with our heroic kitchen appliance-cum-agent of death TERRY (clever shorthand for Toast Ejecting Recoil & Reload system) taking a stand in the middle of a sky blue playfield as adorable alien assassins charge from all sides. This cosmic menace has their sights set on a ticking clock counting down to the end of one level and the beginning of the next, and it's up to TERRY to zap them with a lethal assortment of baked goods before they reach said timer, end the game, and impose Martian law on this fever dream of a planet.Dispatching enemies is as simple as touching them on your screen. TERRY will then launch his delicious projectiles in that direction, but to make the most out of the targeting system you'll often have to lead your shots. Movement is handled through the same system - instead of using an onscreen joystick, you fire at the ground, and the recoil from your blast sends you flying in the opposite direction in a gamey interpretation of Newtonian law.
- Astro Boy is the classic cartoon that old anime-heads reminisce about rushing home from school to watch when they aren't reminiscing about rushing home to watch Speed Racer or Robotech. It's pretty much a futuristic take on the Pinocchio story, featuring a child robot with a blaster in his butt. (That's no joke - he really does have a cannon bolted to his backside, since apparently the lasers built into his arms aren't intimidating enough.) His offensive arsenal doesn't make an appearance in this game, though. Astro Boy Dash, the endless runner from Animoca, is all about avoiding obstacles rather than blowing them to hell.
- Circuit Panic has helped me discover the cure to angriness. The game begins with three comically rendered birds named Rob, Larry, and Gus perched on three power lines, and it's your job to keep these guys alive by dodging the electric current surging beneath their talons.
- Prepare to doff your metaphorical hats, gentlemen and gentlewomen. Charlie Hop, the Chap-inspired action/puzzler from Madarina Games, is more than worth its weight in moustache wax.
- Polygon Storm, the intergalactic geometry dodger from Glass Knuckle Games is a pretty interesting concoction. First try to imagine a minimalist's take on the "bullet hell" genre. Now strip away the bullets (yes, even your own), throw a little bit of Asteroids into the mix, and replace your starship with a vanity mouse cursor from some old shareware disk. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself with that last bit. Those sparkly contrails emanating from the rear of your craft are one of many unlockables granted as you play. As a matter of fact, the entire game is built on a foundation of unlockable content, and I mean this quite literally.