When John Kooistra of Cat in a Box Games first contacted us about Fastar! and we ran our preview post, I really wasn't sure where they were going with the game. Reading the promotional materials and watching the trailer (embedded below) sounded promising, but I wasn't sure if the game was actually going to be fun to play, or just a satirical jab at the repetitiveness of action RPG's filled with generic enemies of different sizes and colors, vague fantasy worlds, and tons of button mashing. The emphasis on speed runs sounded interesting, but in order for speed runs to be appealing you need to have compelling gameplay, and I just wasn't sure whether or not Fastar! would be up to the task.

I'm happy to report that Fastar!, or Fight Angry Squares: The Action RPG, is a ridiculous amount of fun. So much so, that working up the motivation to stop playing the game to actually write this review has been something I've spent the better part of this afternoon doing and once I'm done I'm going to go right back to working on completing a hard mode run through, despite the fact that the siren call of StarCraft II has been taunting me to actually play it since it came out this Tuesday.

The object of Fastar! is delightfully simple. Basically, all you do is run to the right, kill everything that moves, collect coins, spend those coins on upgrades, and make it to the finish as quickly as possible. What makes Fastar! so much fun is the insane amount of variety in the game. While all the enemies you will come across are squares of different sizes and colors, they all behave differently. Some are extremely aggressive and lunge right towards you as soon as they appear on screen, while others will do everything they can to avoid your attacks including jumping clear over your character's head. There are giant squares that move slow but do tons of damage, very fast moving small squares, and the different squares can even use the several magical spells included in the game. It's really strange how much personality these squares manage to have, and how you get to know them once you spend some time with the game. (Argh, damn you, green squares!)

On top of all the different enemies, there are 24 different game modes which all manage to feel different even though the gameplay itself is essentially the same. For instance, there are three standard game modes ranging from easy to hard that provide the "classic" Fastar! experience which pits you up against various enemies to complete the game as fast as possible. Alternatively, there is "profit" mode which emphasizes making money and puts the player to the task of collecting as much money as possible in five minutes, "showdown" mode where you fight 25 enemies as quickly as possible, "sudden death" mode where you only have 50 hit points and basically one hit will kill you, and many others. I'm preferring "arena" mode which is a survival mode of sorts with an endless supply of squares to kill with high scores measured by the number of rounds you're able to survive.

The RPG elements of Fastar! are fairly basic, but do the trick just fine. At points throughout the game, you'll be given the option to upgrade your character. For instance, in the standard game modes you come across towns, or in the "arena" mode a store pops up every 10 rounds. From there, you're able to spend the coins you've collected on boosting your offense or defense as well as healing yourself. This adds yet another layer of complexity on top of this seemingly simple game as you're forced to make decisions such as running back to the previous town to heal at the cost of lost time, or running forward hoping to run across one before dying, thus ruining your entire run.

At the start of each game mode you can choose one of nine magic spells to use on your quest (except in "battlemage" mode where you can choose two). These spells cover the standard array of RPG spells such as fire or lighting attacks to damage opponents, temporary defense boosts, healing, and there's even a spell to instantly warp you back to the previous village. Activating these spells is as easy as tapping a button in the top right corner of the screen, and each spell uses different amounts of power which is displayed in a gauge that slowly refills over time.

The best part about Fastar! is how far above and beyond Cat in the Box games went with polishing this game before its release. I know how incredibly cliche it is to describe a game as "polished" and I hate doing it, believe me, but I can't think of a more accurate way to describe all the little touches here and there that combine to make Fastar! even more awesome. Every part of your Fastar! character is customizable with different colors, and each game mode has its own online leaderboard where your little dude appears exactly how you tweaked him out along with showing which spell you chose for your adventure. There's even four different control modes to play with on-screen controls, swiping, tilting, or one handed.

Fastar! also behaves fantastically as an iPhone game, a pet peeve of mine that far too many games fall victim to. It loads quickly, resumes quickly, and saves your progress exactly where you left off when you quit the game to do something else. It even remembers the last game mode you chose to play and has a big button to mash to replay that mode on the main menu. The game over screen is even fun, as just like when the squares explode in to glorious showers of coins, your character does as well when he's finally slain, and the square that killed you hops on top of your corpse then back and forth collecting all your loot.

The thread in our forums is filled with people in love with the game, and I can't help but agree. Fastar! is a ton of fun, and has all the quick pick-up-and-play-ability of App Store classics like Doodle Jump with a level of depth and complexity that makes Fastar! a blast to play in both the quick game modes that barely last for a minute, and the long difficult game modes that can last for hours... And on top of that, it's launching for a buck.

Anyway, I've spent far too long reviewing this game and can't handle listening to the epic background music of Fastar! loop any more from my phone sitting here on my here desk without playing it. I've got to get back to getting far too involved in slaying squares, yelling at my phone as they drop coins, then eventually getting greedy and dying before reaching the goal. (Or at least that's how the majority of my day has gone so far.)

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://FourMJR.blogspot.com RttaM

    Wonderful review, Hodapp. I couldn't agree more.

  • http://FourMJR.blogspot.com RttaM

    Wonderful review, Hodapp. I couldn't agree more.

  • diffusion8r

    what happened to the monthly best of article? I'd love for this game to get 5*

  • diffusion8r

    what happened to the monthly best of article? I'd love for this game to get 5*

  • shumby

    SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

    baahahahaha
    made me spit soda on my laptop, dude! hahahahahahahaa

    I'm so getting this tonight at 11:01

  • shumby

    SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

    baahahahaha
    made me spit soda on my laptop, dude! hahahahahahahaa

    I'm so getting this tonight at 11:01

  • Johnny knows more than u

    This is more like it, Its amazing how you write long and detailed reviews for these simple games but you don't go into detail on games such as HOS2.

    Can we get a real review like this for HOS1?

    • Johnny knows more than u

      *HOS2

  • Johnny knows more than u

    This is more like it, Its amazing how you write long and detailed reviews for these simple games but you don't go into detail on games such as HOS2.

    Can we get a real review like this for HOS1?

    • Johnny knows more than u

      *HOS2

  • LKR

    Thanks Eli, that made me chuckle. :D

  • LKR

    Thanks Eli, that made me chuckle. :D

  • Skamando

    Really wish this would be out in US right about now...
    And, with the whole calling a game "polished", it really is necessary on the App Store, as so many games have such ugly messes of UIs and graphics. That's the main thing I hate about the App Store, and thats why so called "polished apps" are such a treasure IMO.

  • Skamando

    Really wish this would be out in US right about now...
    And, with the whole calling a game "polished", it really is necessary on the App Store, as so many games have such ugly messes of UIs and graphics. That's the main thing I hate about the App Store, and thats why so called "polished apps" are such a treasure IMO.

  • Elijah

    Yay, it's out a day early! I can't wait until it's out in Canada. Cat in a Box are great devs and will surely update this app for a long time.

    • Elijah

      Out in Canada!!

  • Elijah

    Yay, it's out a day early! I can't wait until it's out in Canada. Cat in a Box are great devs and will surely update this app for a long time.

    • Elijah

      Out in Canada!!

  • http://catinaboxgames.com Jakooistra

    Thanks for the great review! :)

    I also like the use of the word "polished", it feels right. Henry, the lead designer on this project (and one of the groomsmen at my wedding!) really put his heart and soul into this, and long after I thought it was done, he was slaving away, putting in those end-of-level rewards, rebalancing the spells, fiddling with the UI, etc etc etc...

    and I think "polish" is the most appropriate word for what Henry has done to this game, for months.

    Kudos, Henry! Let us hope that we sell enough copies to continue making games together... :p

  • http://catinaboxgames.com Jakooistra

    Thanks for the great review! :)

    I also like the use of the word "polished", it feels right. Henry, the lead designer on this project (and one of the groomsmen at my wedding!) really put his heart and soul into this, and long after I thought it was done, he was slaving away, putting in those end-of-level rewards, rebalancing the spells, fiddling with the UI, etc etc etc...

    and I think "polish" is the most appropriate word for what Henry has done to this game, for months.

    Kudos, Henry! Let us hope that we sell enough copies to continue making games together... :p

  • TheFamousEccles

    I honestly didn't understand the appeal of this at all when I saw the preview, but such a positive review coupled with a low price means I'll get this right away.

  • TheFamousEccles

    I honestly didn't understand the appeal of this at all when I saw the preview, but such a positive review coupled with a low price means I'll get this right away.

  • Alan / Falcon

    This is the best game trailer since StarCraft II.

    Hmn. Er... how about this is the best iPhone game trailer since 10 balls, 7 cups!

  • Alan / Falcon

    This is the best game trailer since StarCraft II.

    Hmn. Er... how about this is the best iPhone game trailer since 10 balls, 7 cups!

  • Metalbear

    Bad a$$ game review.

  • Metalbear

    Bad a$$ game review.

  • JCat

    This goes to prove you don't need a giant cyclops, troll or three headed dragon to achieve the same kind of satisfaction. Come on, if you don't "get the idea" - then better get back to your Call of Duty sessions on 360.

  • JCat

    This goes to prove you don't need a giant cyclops, troll or three headed dragon to achieve the same kind of satisfaction. Come on, if you don't "get the idea" - then better get back to your Call of Duty sessions on 360.

  • crankder

    Anyone tried this on the ipad ? I am wondering how it plays.

    • gootch

      Yes, I have.

      Looks great and plays extremely well.

      Thumbs up for playing on iPad.

  • crankder

    Anyone tried this on the ipad ? I am wondering how it plays.

    • gootch

      Yes, I have.

      Looks great and plays extremely well.

      Thumbs up for playing on iPad.

  • danny

    meh... not that great...

  • danny

    meh... not that great...

  • clyde

    Its an alright game, worth the $.99, but after about 45 min of play im kind of over it....Although the controls are really really precise, i still feel that its an ackward game to play on the iphone. Loved loved his blue games, but i think when it comes to these silly little time wasters, donut games has a lock.

  • clyde

    Its an alright game, worth the $.99, but after about 45 min of play im kind of over it....Although the controls are really really precise, i still feel that its an ackward game to play on the iphone. Loved loved his blue games, but i think when it comes to these silly little time wasters, donut games has a lock.

  • Noman

    Anything from cat in a box is an instabuy. Downloading now.

  • Noman

    Anything from cat in a box is an instabuy. Downloading now.

  • B34$T

    This game is too addictive. The customization options could be a little better than just changing some colors but as of what I have played so far it gets a 5 stars from me.

  • B34$T

    This game is too addictive. The customization options could be a little better than just changing some colors but as of what I have played so far it gets a 5 stars from me.

  • Starmonkey101

    Wow. I cant believe I was up past 1 playing this. It's awesome :D

  • Starmonkey101

    Wow. I cant believe I was up past 1 playing this. It's awesome :D

  • Haanden

    Reading this review made me realize I could have played Fastar! instead of reading the review. Also writting this makes me realize I can play Fastar! instead... Damn, I want my time back!
    Anywho, fantastic review. I'm off to play Fastar! now! ;D

  • Haanden

    Reading this review made me realize I could have played Fastar! instead of reading the review. Also writting this makes me realize I can play Fastar! instead... Damn, I want my time back!
    Anywho, fantastic review. I'm off to play Fastar! now! ;D

  • tsharpfilm

    Great review. Customer reviews seem very positive too.

    Buying now.

  • tsharpfilm

    Great review. Customer reviews seem very positive too.

    Buying now.

  • HardcoreGamerz

    Yeah, seem like the game is nice. worth to buy for $0.99.

  • HardcoreGamerz

    Yeah, seem like the game is nice. worth to buy for $0.99.

  • MrMuesli

    Sorry guys, I'm a bit bored with this one already. About the only redeeming feature of RPG's is the story, imo. If you strip that away you're left with a grindy snooze fest most of time. As fantastically polished and innovative a game as this is, sadly I'm sort of bored already with the whole tilt-attack-tilt-attack, and no story to make me feel like I want to maybe go through it all again. I admire it a lot, I just don't find it that much fun.

    • Pholly

      I second that.

    • Mason

      i third it..

  • MrMuesli

    Sorry guys, I'm a bit bored with this one already. About the only redeeming feature of RPG's is the story, imo. If you strip that away you're left with a grindy snooze fest most of time. As fantastically polished and innovative a game as this is, sadly I'm sort of bored already with the whole tilt-attack-tilt-attack, and no story to make me feel like I want to maybe go through it all again. I admire it a lot, I just don't find it that much fun.

    • Pholly

      I second that.

    • Mason

      i third it..

  • HipHopTouch

    I find it a little fun, but it seems to literally be one level.

    Kinda short in that sense, but much better than a lot of £0.59 apps that I've bought, so a good buy in my books.

  • HipHopTouch

    I find it a little fun, but it seems to literally be one level.

    Kinda short in that sense, but much better than a lot of £0.59 apps that I've bought, so a good buy in my books.

  • PONGbyATARI

    Some games do not need to be complex or deep to be fun this is one of those games. Just shaving your completion time is enough to keep me saying just one more time and then I'm going to bed.

    • MrMuesli

      It's not a matter of it being more complex or deep. I just need a reason to play, aside from getting to the end of the level and beating your/others times (woopeedoo!). I want to be awarded with something; an achievement, a new piece of cosmetic armour, a glimmer of a story perhaps. Anything to make me feel it's worthwhile to fire this little baby up once more. Where's the carrot at the end of the string??

      • Brian

        I see your point, and I do agree somewhat...so I was trying to think, what kind of unlockables would make this game better? I suppose there could be costumes or something, that would be kind of cool. Maybe other characters...
        How about a rogue's gallery of the cubes, with tactics they use and maybe a funny blurb about them? Kill X number of certain cubes or finish X level and get the card for that cube type?
        Or make the game modes unlockables? Though I guess it's a bit too late for that one. :)
        There are also silly possibilities, like the ability to decorate the cubes or something...

      • MrMuesli

        Hey Brian, yes you've nailed my issue 100%! And you're way ahead of me with ideas. Any or all of those would work really well I think. I especially like the gallery idea (Plants vs Zombies do a similar thing which works brilliantly). It would bring the cubes to life even more as well.

        To maybe address the same thing for our protagonist, I thought maybe his diary could be unlocked day by day (each day unlocking after x cubes killed/x finished levels) with silly musings on the days exploits. I'm suddenly enthusiastic about this game thanks to you: ) I'll think some more...

  • http://touchArcade PONGbyATARI

    Some games do not need to be complex or deep to be fun this is one of those games. Just shaving your completion time is enough to keep me saying just one more time and then I'm going to bed.

    • MrMuesli

      It's not a matter of it being more complex or deep. I just need a reason to play, aside from getting to the end of the level and beating your/others times (woopeedoo!). I want to be awarded with something; an achievement, a new piece of cosmetic armour, a glimmer of a story perhaps. Anything to make me feel it's worthwhile to fire this little baby up once more. Where's the carrot at the end of the string??

      • Brian

        I see your point, and I do agree somewhat...so I was trying to think, what kind of unlockables would make this game better? I suppose there could be costumes or something, that would be kind of cool. Maybe other characters...
        How about a rogue's gallery of the cubes, with tactics they use and maybe a funny blurb about them? Kill X number of certain cubes or finish X level and get the card for that cube type?
        Or make the game modes unlockables? Though I guess it's a bit too late for that one. :)
        There are also silly possibilities, like the ability to decorate the cubes or something...

      • MrMuesli

        Hey Brian, yes you've nailed my issue 100%! And you're way ahead of me with ideas. Any or all of those would work really well I think. I especially like the gallery idea (Plants vs Zombies do a similar thing which works brilliantly). It would bring the cubes to life even more as well.

        To maybe address the same thing for our protagonist, I thought maybe his diary could be unlocked day by day (each day unlocking after x cubes killed/x finished levels) with silly musings on the days exploits. I'm suddenly enthusiastic about this game thanks to you: ) I'll think some more...

  • Soupbandit

    How are you playing this instead of SC2...this is horrible but i guess it's worth 99C

  • Soupbandit

    How are you playing this instead of SC2...this is horrible but i guess it's worth 99C

  • http://Taptapreveange.com Rebeccato

    Umm I dnt no how to change my avatar on my taptapreveange three???

  • http://Taptapreveange.com Rebeccato

    Umm I dnt no how to change my avatar on my taptapreveange three???