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Neoteria review (iOS / Universal)

March 10, 2012

“I push my fingers into my eyes
It’s the only thing that slowly stops the ache”

10 word description: Classic horizontal shoot-em-up game. Multiple worlds, levels & aliens. Game Center.

10 word review: Somehow, this hasn’t managed to be everything it could be.

You will like this if you enjoy: Faux retro arcade shooters with rather annoying controls. Grinding early levels to regain power upgrades lost in later levels. Mashing a virtual button until you lose all feeling in your thumb.

The good news: It looks ok but not exactly HD, most noticeably on iPad. Game performance is good, file size commendably small.

Hooray for boring boss fights

The bad news: Neither control method is particularly good. The ‘360 degree’ buttonless system, that should have just been a straightforward relative touch control, is hopeless. Getting destroyed carries a penalty of losing power-up points. If you lose enough power-up points, your weapon reverts to a previous, weaker, weapon. In the harder stages, once this happens you are screwed; this necessitates returning to earlier, easier levels to grind for power-up points before returning to the harder levels. That isn’t fun, it isn’t even logical. And I’m sorry, but the boss fights are simplistic and tedious.

The star rating is nothing to do with your accuracy or kill percentage. It's directly related to the difficulty level

Arcadelife verdict: The app store description includes a warning that this “is not for the weak or casual gamer”. If the intention is to alienate a large number of potential players and reduce the money that this game makes, that’s really great. Otherwise, maybe try catering for the “weak or casual gamer” by adding a mode with auto-fire and removing some of the enemies that take a lot more than one hit to destroy. I wouldn’t describe myself as a casual gamer but the novelty of pounding the hell out of an on-screen fire button (and fighting the annoyance of directional controls that frequently let me down) dwindled pretty damn fast for me.

The combination of infinite lives and a power-up penalty doesn’t work. It spoils the game. It isn’t fun. Nobody wants to grind for power-ups, and yet that seems to me to be the only viable way to play the game. It isn’t even satisfying. There’s too much wrong with this, I’m afraid, for me to pull out the nostalgia card and tell anyone it’s a great game. I’ll look forward to the update that fixes the controls and adds some retro fun to the retro graphics.

Closing thought: R-Type completely nailed this genre a long, long time ago. If you’re going to reinvent the wheel, at least make the damn thing round.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 7.5/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 5/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 4/10
Final rating – 65/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1.1
iTunes link

Orange Pixel / Neoteria website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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