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Why is Tilt To Live so darn good? September 23, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me.
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1 comment so far

Forget Geometry Wars. If your gaming platform is the iPhone, I don’t think any game does it better in the shooter genre than Tilt To Live.

The most basic description of the game I can offer is: “It is like Geometry Wars, but you do everything without ever touching the screen”. That’s right: when the game starts, you control your ship only by tilting the iPhone, hence the name. Tilt To Live is not only a great shooter but also a fantastic example of how to make motion controls a perfect fit. You never feel like you died because the controls are flawed; quite the contrary, every difficult dodge is very gratifying.

The game offers multiple modes of play, but none of them is truly innovative, the appeal really is on the controls and the amount of effort put into the main game. Between new weapons and awards, it is easy to spend hours playing this little fella, so much that I found myself going for it even at home, with the FIFA 10 DVD inside the 360 and the Uncharted 2 disk in the PS3. Tilt To Live is that addictive. And this is coming from a guy who played Pacifism to exhaustion in Geometry Wars 2 (and I challenge anyone reading this to beat my 715 million points record).

Isn’t it interesting how this apparently simple game can be so good? I’ve been playing it for a while now, but recently started thinking about that. There are several factors in play. For one, the Geometry Wars formula is not new and very successful. In a self competition way (so it works even without online leaderboards), endless games in which the difficulty is constantly increasing provide a very satisfying search for a new high score. As the game gets harder, the reward for playing only increases, each move harder than the previous one, challenging and honing the player skills at the same time.

Of course that’s not enough, the twist are the motion controls. And, like I already mentioned, they are not a hindrance but very natural. So natural that I dare say in Tilt To Live the controls are transparent, playing is very instinctive (take a look at this post for more on the subject). This takes Tilt To Live to a new height, because making the controls transparent allows players to truly immerse in the game and enjoy it on a different level, which is very rare in such an abstract game.

Of course we cannot forget presentation and attention to detail play a big role in the formula. And the fact that Tilt To Live delivers in that area too contributes even more to increase immersion. The graphics are sleek, the soundtrack is a lot of fun, the gameplay seems to have been tweaked to perfection. Once again, there’s nothing off pitch to detract the player from the experience.

I wonder how far these components alone – transparent controls and a lot of polish – can take a game with a nothing but OK design. I suspect they are not enough to create a classic, but might be enough to ensure the game is not a flunk. However, in this case, it doesn’t matter, because Tilt To Live is just great. Seriously, go buy it.

See you space cowboys…

Quick review: Espgaluda II for the iPhone July 21, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me.
Tags: , , ,

I have to be honest: I’m slightly biased when talking about Espgaluda II. First of all because I love vertical scrolling shooters. And second because Guwange and ESP Ra.De., two old school shooters also developed by Cave, are in my top 3 together with Treasure‘s Ikaruga (which tops the list).

But bias aside, if possible, Cave did a great job with Espgaluda II for the iPhone. In a world where wide screens dominate the market (in Brazil I even had a rotating wall mount just to play Ikaruga with my LCD sideways), the portrait layout of mobile devices provide a great alternative for shoot’em up games to emerge again. And Espgaluda II delivers.

To be perfectly honest, if you played Espgaluda or ESP Ra.De. you’ll feel some déjà vu. The games are very similar in nature. But that’s not a bad thing, because Espgaluda II is awesome. The graphics are great, the controls are very responsive and there are more bullets on the screen than you can imagine.

Among these factors, the controls are possibly the most interesting. Analog sticks on the iPhone are very awkward. So Espgaluda II follows suit with other successful touch based shooters, like Space Invaders Infinity Gene and rRootage, allowing you to drag your character with your finger. And it works very well. But look at the screenshots above. Notice the border around the game screen? In Espgaluda II you can set the game screen to 3 different sizes and none of them fill up the whole screen. I suspect the reason for that is a proportion difference between the original arcade version and the iPhone port. But it ends up working very well. You see, you might not have noticed, but our fingers are not transparent. And until they become at least translucid, our moving our fingers always hide something on the screen. In manic shooters, it can be very frustrating to die because your forefinger is hiding the killing bullet. You get used to avoiding that, of course, but in Espgaluda II you don’t have to, because you can place your fingers on the bottom border of the screen, which is not part of the play area.

The other great aspect of the game is that it is freaking hard, as you would expect from a Cave manic shooter. Of course you can keep tapping continue and get to the end fairly quickly. But that’s the cheap way to play, it is not how these games are supposed to be approached. The idea is to resist temptation and get as far as possible with your original 3 lives and nothing more. If you do that I assure you: it will be a very long road until you finish this one on the hard difficulty.

So to sum it all up: if you like manic scrolling shooters and you own an iPhone, Espgaluda II is definitely a must buy.

See you space cowboys…

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