Based on our reader responses to StarSmasher and SolarBlaster, it seems clear there's an untapped iPhone market for 3D first person space shooters.

Tonight, Wretched Games released their take on the 3D Shooter with Venger [App Store]. The developer describes their game:

An exciting action packed 3D shooter, spread across 20 frenzied levels. Use the accelerometer to steer your spaceship through trenches, tunnels and asteroid fields. Use the touch pad to blast UFOs and turrets with your lasers, or turbo boost through timed traps. Each level ends in an epic boss battle where you must take out the boss space station defenses while blasting its defense UFOs.

As said, the game is comprised of 20 different levels in which you fly a ship to destroy the enemy UFOs, surface to air turrets and avoid obstacles. At the end of each level, there is a "boss" fight against a space station.

The game vaguely reminds me of a 3D version of Zaxxon, in the way the levels, enemies and force fields are depicted. But, to be honest, I don't remember enough of the original Zaxxon to know if the similarities extend beyond that.

The ship is piloted with the iPhone's accelerometer and uses a somewhat loose but comfortable control system. The iPhone's position can be calibrated so that you can play in any position. Shooting is accomplished by tapping on either side of the screen which activate your lasers. You can play on "normal" difficulty and there is also a locked "insane" difficulty which is presumably available after you complete the 20 levels.

Unfortunately the game comes with no in-game documentation so you are left guessing as to some of the gameplay and enemies. A speed boost button is found at the bottom of the screen which can help you accelerate your way between blinking force fields.

While the mechanics of the game are fun, the levels and especially the boss fights quickly become repetitive. Boss fights appear to simply be harder variants of the same two space stations, though, admittedly I have not yet made it through level 20. For fans of the 3D Space Shooter genre, this is likely the best version out there, but it does come at what is now considered a premium price ($6.99).

This gameplay video shows the entirety of level one (including boss fight) and part of level 2:

Game Details
Name: Venger (1.0) Price: $6.99 [Buy]
Developer: Wretched Games Size: 8.1 MB
Venger is probably the best 3D Space Shooter currently available on the iPhone, though it's an under represented genre. While the game mechanics are fun, the repetitive levels and boss fights may grow tiresome.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Mat

    It looks ok, but I imagine its not very replayable, looks too scripted and that usually means its going to be really short too.

  • http://davidchartier.com David Chartier

    Come on, there is no way that $6.99 is a premium price. iPod touch notwithstanding, are people seriously able to buy a $200-500 phone, drop at least $70 every month, and not afford $10 or $15 for the occasional game? I've been through phones on just about every platform or OS (Symbian, Series 60, Windows Mobile, etc.), and $6.99 for an application—let alone a 3D game—is a steal.

  • Barry Ward (aka wastedyuthe)

    To David, I think 'Premium' in this case refers to the price relative to the overall pricing of apps in the app store at the moment. In the UK this game is £3.99, but there are games that have more to them that cost significantly less.
    I agree that £3.99 isn't much to pay for a game, especially as it looks fairly polished and has plenty of levels. But it is kind of a premium price when the most a game has cost in the UK so far is £6 (so £4 isn't far off that), and many more are available for 59p etc etc.

  • arn

    @david chartier - I agree that people should be able to pay $10-$20 for a solid game. But I don't think you can argue that based on the way the pricing has dropped the past few weeks/months, that $7-$10 isn't on the high end of the range (for games).

  • Oliver

    Oh well, the price discussion again... ;)

    Asphalt for the iPhone sells for 8 Euros. Asphalt for the Nintendo DS sells for 20 Euros, which were more than 30 on the start of this title. And we are talking about a "real" game here, with plenty of content, hours of gameplay, something which evolves. These "real" games could easily be sold for 15 Euros or more on the iPhone. I would pay. So what are we talking about? Even the most expensive iPhone games are much cheaper then the cheapest DS games!

    But of course most of the iPhone titles are puzzlers or short ones. Games, which you play through in a few hours and then you put them away. Or puzzlers, which you open for 5 minutes. Do we want to pay 20 or 30 Euros for these games? Of course not. Venger costs 5,49 Euros in the German AppStore. I like those games, I would pay 5,49 for it, but the gameplay looks so repetive and boring, that I'm not interested. I have StarSmasher and Solar Blaster. Both have no real story, but they cost less than Venger and keep me entertaining for a few minutes - and they are 3D space shooters. I don't expect Venger to do much more, so I won't spend more money for Venger.

    If you want me to pay more money for the game, offer me more content. I'll pay 20 Euros for Sim City easily. Talking about a shooter, give me Rebel Assault or Privateer and I'll give you 20 Euros or more. Same goes for Zelda, Mario Kart, Age of Empires, Fire Emblem etc. Give me games with content. I'm waiting for you!

    It's that easy: Premium content = Premium price = Entertainment for hours, days, weeks.

    And with Premium price I don't mean the ridiculous 10 bucks you are all moaning about over and over. Take a look at "real" gaming consoles for a reality check.

  • Brian

    I don't think the price is high, yet I hesitate. Probably because of the sheer volume of games on the iPhone and release rate. There's always something new and they keep getting better. The price isn't much, but if I bought every game it would add up in no time. So will I get one 1-2 expensive games this month, or stretch it out for 3-6 lower priced games. Or hold out for something I might like more.

    Plenty of times I've bought games just to see the iPhone's abilities, but that has reached my limit and I won't risk buying a game that doesn't keep me coming back.

    With this game, it has elements put together that previous games did individually, making it more complete, yet it ends up looking boring quickly. Do the colors change eventually? Why no power ups for stronger weapons to help reduce that endless tapping on the screen? Bombs maybe or alternate missile weapon. Like hold a button and the longer you hold it the more target locks are made, but if you move the iPhone too much, it loses the targets.

    Maybe instead of forcing you to tap both sides for firing, how about a throttle slider if the game doesn't have one besides the boost. Then with the ability to change speed, other gameplay elements could have been added that involved passing moving obstacles to break up the shooting. Also, maybe a roll button, tap it to do a fast roll in the current direction you are moving.

    But maybe this type of venue can't have games like without it being some large company like EA that has the cash. The only hope is if a small independent developer starts off strong with this and earns enough money to improve it with a 2.0 version.

  • Oliver

    Same with me. I looked at my iTunes bills and saw, that I payed 130 Euros last month for software. So starting in october I limited myself to 25 Euros each month. Works for now. It keeps me away from being a first-buyer. I now wait for discounts or just skip an app if after two or four weeks I do no longer have the desire to "must... have...". And of course this also means that the reviews have settled and gameplay videos are available, so you have a better overview on what you get when you pay.

    For the next month I'll buy SushiTime, Fieldrunners and Kroll.

  • (Klondike)

    You should probrbly skip Kroll.

  • http://myspace.com/battlebornmusic Battle Born

    mmmmm progress.
    too bad there's no early adopter price.

  • http://www.ramones.co.uk Phil

    This is graphically well executed. Playability may be limited, but as a graphics demo with explosions and accelerometer steering it's pretty sweet!

  • somedude

    Speaking of 3D shooters, George Lucas would totally have at least 2 of my dollars if they released the old Star Wars vector game for the iphone. Anyone remember that one? Seems like a perfect (and easy to do) fit.

    I'd easily get more gameplay out to that than the Force Unleashed.

  • ArtOfWarfare

    Wait, this is the best?

    man... I can't believe how neglected the once so popular genre of space shooters has become. The fans haven't disappeared, have they? Where have the developers gone? Well... on paper... my planned game kicks this ones butt. I have models, textures, and some enemy, item, boss (which are each very unique,) and level plans but unfortunately I only started learning to program 3 months (actually, I guess it's 4 now,) and I only just got an OpenGL book (I made the models in the free 3D art/animation program: Art Of Illusion... I'm not sure how transferrable those files will be.) I'm not advertising the biggest features that I plan though because they're so simple that I'm sure more experienced developers could easily duplicate and polish quicker than I can actually make them... so yeah... there will be a glorious shining star for the space shooter fans with iPod Touches/iPhones... I hope...

  • Finch

    @Oliver

    I think you can save some money and not buy Kroll, it sounds abysmal.

  • http://www.GalleyTech.com/ Galley

    Pew pew pew!

  • Steven

    @phil yeah, I agree. I really enjoyed playing this and it had such a great feel that I've wanted to play it over again. Hurrah for space games!! MORE PLEASE!

  • TSP

    I like the looks of this game. Speaking of spaceshooters and the like I would love a version of Elite for the iphone.

    Well waiting for the game to drop to 0,99 before buying. I have no problems buying apps no matter the cost, I have a problem with buying full prize apps that get discounted the day after. Apocalypse, Rock n Roll, Ms Pacman, Virus...and the list goes on.

  • Oliver

    @FINCH Kroll looks great and that's what I expect: Flat ("casual") gameplay, gorgeous graphics. I don't buy it for a great gaming experience, but for a short break and the graphics are worth the bucks, in my opinion.

  • Kman

    It looks awesome. Reminds me of the Descent games from my childhood. However, the price puts it at a 10% increase in my monthly bill (judge all you want, but I don't even have an SMS plan because $70/mo is very near my budget limit), and that's assuming that I get a full months playability out of it, which very few paid iPhone games have given me so far. I'll be watching the reviews on replayability closely while deciding whether or not to purchase this. In most cases, it would be more beneficial to buy the same amount worth of songs and be able to listen to them for years. A 'lite' version might swing me into getting it though, hint hint.

  • http://www.wretchedgames.com Maahes

    The game has now been reduced to $3.99 and there is a free LITE version so you can try it out first.
    Hope you all like it

    James Podesta
    Wretched Games

  • NotYou

    I really liked the lite version. The game feels smoother than it looks in the video.

    I think Zone Warrior looks like it has more fun though. I think this price drop was to compete with it.

  • http://myspace.com/battlebornmusic Battle Born

    do the crosshairs seem jumpy to anybody else?
    I think maybe the controls could use a little tweaking

  • Oliver

    Tried the light version. Fluid graphics, but very repetetive. Hard control scheme. No storyline at all. Boring.

    Had more fun with Solar Blaster.

  • Fiffy

    I liked the trial quite a bit and bought the full version. The game is very polished. Gameplay-wise it feels a lot like those classic side-scrolling arcade shooters (does anybody remember Vanguard?), just with modern 3D graphics. :) While I agree that it has limited variety, new enemies show up from time to time, and the levels get quite challenging (so far I have made it to level 9). It is also good for a quick game on the go.

    One thing I don't like very much is the asteroid fields with the mines. It's quite hard to know when you are too close and how far you can evade before you hit the walls of the "invisible corridor".

    Otherwise, I'm quite happy with it.

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  • http://www.relayrecording.com relay jon

    I love the game but can't get past the levels with the hovering ships with the rings around them. How do you kill those things?

  • mardas pye

    Pulled?