With the recent release of Dodonpachi Resurrection [$8.99/Lite], developer Cave has set the gold standard for bullet hell shooters on iOS devices. One problem with that game, however, is that it just pushes too many pixels to be able to run well on older devices, leaving gamers with anything below a 3rd generation device out of the loop. For those people, developer Firi Games, who previously brought Flare Elite [99¢] to the App Store, have something in store for you. Their upcoming top-down shooter Phoenix features quite a bit of onscreen action of its own, and runs smoothly even on the original iPhone.

Phoenix looks to do a couple things differently than your typical shmup as well. Instead of progressing through a series of predesigned levels, the entire game is one randomly generated level that scales the difficulty based on how well you are doing in the game. Tijmen Roberti of Firi explains how the gameplay will work:

The game centers around a single, procedurally generated infinite challenge. The goal is to destroy as many enemies as possible, going as far as possible, in an attempt to achieve the highest score. There is no set difficulty, instead Phoenix uses an AI director that adapts the difficulty on demand, depending on the player performance. In this way, Phoenix generates an exciting challenge for players of all skills. The procedural content generator can create millions of enemy variations, and combined with the adaptive AI director, no single play through will be the same.

Firi has developed their own game engine called the Flare engine which allows Phoenix to run well on all devices despite the intense action onscreen. To prove this, they created a video of the game running on an original iPhone exclusively to show readers in the upcoming game thread in our forums:

Phoenix will feature regional and worldwide online leaderboards to compete for high scores. One point brought up in our forums is that the ship you use seems unusually large for a top-down shooter. Firi explains that while the ship model itself is big, the actual hitbox is just the blue circle of the cockpit, and that will be the only part of the ship where you will have to avoid getting hit. True that Firi doesn't quite have the pedigree of Cave when it comes to developing shooters, but Phoenix is looking pretty good based on the video and should offer another alternative for bullet hell gameplay. If you've been feeling left out of the bullet hell fun due to having an older device, you can look forward to blasting and dodging bullets when Phoenix hits the App Store sometime this month.

  • Zorak

    Don't forget that you can also get rRootage, free game, and an excellent one !

  • Mark

    Hope they don't run into trouble for using the Phoenix name as there was the game of the same name and genre back around 1981/2.

    • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

      You mean... as if 90% of all games on the iPhone aren't rip-offs of other games intellectual properties? Heck, there are Apps that use Pac-Man & Super Mario sprites as their icons! How does Apple allow such things?

      • JCat

        True, though he's referring to the actual name of the game, not the visuals. Phoenix was a 1980 game from Centuri -- awesome back in its day - and pretty brutal.

      • Mark


        Taito own the game. And as JCat says it was tricky. Well from 2nd time around and you had to know how to take out the boss quickly.

  • david

    Cool ,thanks for pointing this one out, never heard of it. I preordered my new ipod so the bullethell fun with dodonpachi is finally possible but I will def check it out when phoenix is released.

  • http://soloipad.blogspot.com SoloiPad

    Great, I love this kind of games I'll be following. Thanks

  • MidianGTX

    Whoever brought up the "issue" about the ship graphic being big hasn't played many bullet hell shooters. They're traditionally far, far larger than their hitboxes.

    • Adam

      The hitbox itself seems a bit large for a bullet hell game.
      I'm interested in if this is going to use a health system or a traditional "one hit and you die" kind of thing.

      • http://www.firigames.com Selachii

        It is not 1-hit kill, though we're considering adding that as a 'hardcore mode' after the game is released. It has some other implications, so it will take some time to implement this.

        As it is the ship will start to burn when the player is hit and can be healed by picking up powerups from destroyed enemies.

    • george

      well i have playedd nigh on all shooters and i have to agree, it looks a little larged in comparison to the size of the screen it's shown on, however im really likeing what i see here, good luck dev, i also remember back in the day playing phoneix in my local cafe, great game, call your game Phoneix R sounds cool and maybe keep the dev out of trouble if the rights are still active that is.

  • Bc142

    Does this have anything to do with the game phoenix I have on my calculator haha

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

    Does anyone else think it's odd to have a High Score Leader Board for a game where "no single play through will be the same"?

    • http://www.mindjuice.net MindJuice

      You mean odd like any match 3 with random falling pieces, Fruit Ninja with random fruit, Canabalt with random levels, Doodle Jump with random platform placement, Tetris with random blocks falling, Word with friends with random letters, Flight Control with random planes, etc.?

      Odd like those? 🙂

      • John

        I think the AI scaling the difficulty is a bit of an issue though.

    • http://www.mindjuice.net MindJuice

      On a side note, love the music on your site! Great stuff!

  • deadclown

    I don't mean to be a stick in the mud. But can somebody explain bullethell games to me? Every few months, I download another one, trying to understand why (some) people are so into them. I just don't get it.

    There are HUNDREDS of bullet hell games on the iphone, too, it seems. And SO many of them look really amazing. This one included. But...do we need that many? Are there people out there who, like the TD monkeys (guilty), just play every darn bullet hell game out there...?

  • Citsade

    There are very very few bullet hell games on the Iphone...there are the big names like Cave which have 2 games released, then there is rRootage and Nois2za (sp)...and ill even throw in Tumiki Fighters in there which is different but feels like it belongs.

    Other Shmups (is the word you are looking for, not bullet hell) are different styles, feels and dont really hold a candle to Cave games...or like the PC Touhou games which are just fantastic.

  • Magnalon

    As a shmup fan, I will buy it.

    But the hit box NEEDS to be a small crystal on the ship's back. Having the ship be that huge is really hokey, and will doom it as another knock off iPhone shooter.

    Also, if it's controlled via the accelerometer, I won't play it. Cave controls all the way.

  • Crsteinb

    This game is the awesome sauce.... i cant get enough of it