War is Bullet Hell
The mobile platform is practically made for shooters. Since the days of Galaga and Space Invaders, most computers and consoles haven’t captured same feel of portrait-proportioned arcade cabinets. However, the average smart phone or tablet has been able to shake this limitation naturally. Space Phoenix- Shoot’em Up uses this advantage as developer Magic Spore Games’ inaugural release. While some pieces emulate its forebearers in creating something freshly classic, there are some areas where turbulence is especially rough.
Shoot’em up titles typically follow the same type of gameplay as its ancestors, with small updates to keep things fresh. Space Phoenix follows this trend by giving you a spaceship and jettisoning you through a scrolling starfield of enemy fire. Immediately, the care and drive of the developers is evident. Ships have unique designs in beautifully rendered 3D. To distinguish itself from others in the genre, the whole background upon which you travel moves with your swerving spacecraft.
Fight or Flight
Enemy ships come down in waves, and after a certain number of waves you fight a larger, more complex boss. Upon their defeat you gain rewards and ship upgrades that can be used to improve your fighting capabilities. Each level’s waves get incrementally harder. At first, I found the game to be far too easy. Adversaries went down with almost no defense and very little return fire. However, by the time I got to just the fourth level, the difficulty began to rise. This was highly satisfying as a more experienced player.
In between waves, players receive temporary upgrades to their fire and flight capabilities. These last as long as you do or until the end of the level. Becoming overwhelmed by the sheer amount of firepower is an overwhelming albeit satisfying sight to behold near the final waves. These challenges see to reward players further with daily and achievement based rewards in the way of in-game currency.
Stay on Target
Of course, all that glitters doesn’t come without cost. Similar to many other mobile titles, “free” upgrades and bonuses for in-game currency abound. The UI in the main menu screens is inundated with notifications that won’t disappear. This occurs alongside the constant promotion of hastening your ship’s development through ads. This wouldn’t be quite as jarring if they didn’t appear every single time you gained upgrades (promoting a doubled effect).
Another strange occurrence within Space Phoenix is within the gameplay itself. While I’ve personally experienced samples of these titles on mobile before, I’ve never seen something quite like this. Normally, when you remove your finger from guiding your vessel, the ship will continue straight forward from where you’ve left off. In contrast, this app slows all the action down and displays your current health. When you replace your finger, it speeds up. This stutters the action significantly in a way that breaks up the game in uncomfortable ways. Have a random itch on your body that will take half a second? Need to take a drink of water? Compensating for this slowdown feels blocky and uncomfortable. I do appreciate the inferred intention of giving you moments to look away from the screen. But, the focus required for titles in this genre makes this feel inconvenient at best.
Fire When Ready
With a keen focus and mostly straight forward gameplay, Space Phoenix doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel (and to grand results). Players will enjoy its high stakes action that allows for personalization and all-around fun. Despite a few hiccups along the way, this game makes what was old, new again, and is worth the time spent flying across the universe.
Is It Hardcore?
Space Phoenix takes the best of its predecessors without trying to fix what isn’t broken. Its malleable crafts, engaging gameplay and rising difficulty serves to satisfy amateurs and veterans alike. Despite a few, slightly repetitive chunks in its initial stages, this shooter has the chance to really catch on with the mobile gaming community.