Mankind’s trouble has always been that we cannot sit still. Place in a dog in black, plain room and it’ll lay and wait patiently. Put a man in the same room and they’ll ask why they are there, looking for the way out, gradually losing their mind. Outer-space can be a very lonely place.
To rescue the sanity of space pilots we make a break-through discovery – star-jumping. Allowing us to travel at previously unimaginable speeds, we begin to search the stars. Inside your ship, you star-jump into the unknown outer limits of the furthest galaxies. All is going well; the stars are creating exquisite neon patterns as you pass. Wait, what’s this purple spiky thing bouncing about? And what’s this giant wheel with teeth doing spinning towards-ARGH!
TiltStorm is a very basic, very simple game similar to Tempest. The welcome screen is nice and neat, featuring all the options, including control styles, on one screen. Tapping your score will pause the game; bringing up VCR style buttons (stop, play and pause). Tilting the screen or using the touch-dial on-screen moves the ship in a full circle. Auto-fire is permanently active and all you need to do is dodge and line up your shots.
Sounds easy, but it isn’t. The creatures attacking you come in many shapes, sizes and movements. Swooping in-and-out in a kamikaze attempt to destroy you, and with only three lives, you have to survive each wave of these intergalactic gits. Be prepared to fear the spiked-ball beings. One at time, they are easy prey; a group together is a nightmare. Every colour variation moves at a different speed and you’ll hold your breath in horror as they flank you. To take the blighters out you’ll need lightening reaction times to weave among the enemies, firing off shots automatically, ducking out of the way of the inward bound forces.
The accuracy of the touch-dial movement is never an issue and auto-fire feels natural to the device. Forcing analogue style controls or only using the gyroscope is often a negative point to current iPhone titles. As each level passes the game becomes increasing difficult, rewarding you every ten stages with an extra life.
Upon losing your last life, you enter your name and join the leaderboards. There is no save option, password or level select. Learning patterns and never blinking is the key to success. TiltStorm harks back to the days of three lives and then its game over. There is no end-game or plot line to follow. It’s about topping the worldwide scoreboard that ‘one last try’ mentality.
TiltStorm’s simplicity is also its biggest drawback. Lose your lives and it’s back to the title screen. With one game mode and no level select some casual gamers may be put off. Losing a life in the early stages due to a mistake is frustrating, often resulting in the choice to restart the game. It would have been a nice addition to include Survival (available as a separate ‘lite’ version) and other alternative modes to add variation. A glitch I experienced in the game meant the next wave of enemies would come every few seconds, even if I hadn’t finished the wave before. This created a quick, intense game where I had to force myself not to blink (learnt from Ikargua) in order to survive as long as I did.
It’s uncertain how gamers will take TiltStorm. The gameplay is focused on the arcade scoreboards of yesteryear, and while a joy for those of us who remember these times, others may not find the same charm. How much you’ll return to TiltStorm depends upon your desire to get further up the scoreboard. For those of us that do have at least a pixel of love left in us for old arcade games, TiltStorm offers plenty of enjoyment for the price of half a pint.
Review based on version 2.4