As an avid fan of the retro aesthetic, it's with a hopeful heart that I try out every retro game in the App Store that I come across. Sadly, all too often the charm ends right there -- with the aesthetic. But, on the occasions where all those blocky pixels and glowing vectors are backed up by addictive gameplay, I'm a happy gamer, indeed. And a happy gamer is what two titles from Dan Bliss at BinarySquare have made me. They're not new releases, but titles we seem to have overlooked for whatever reason and it's only in the last month or so that I've spent real time with them.
Originally released almost two years ago, Dragon Panic [App Store] is a cute little dodge and blast game that looks like something you'd see on a Sega Master System.
The game puts you in tilt-based control of one of two dragons, Berny or Blaze, trapped in a sort of dungeon of horrors. Said horrors come in the form of spears, skulls, arrows, and potions falling from above. You must run about the dungeon, blasting the falling implements with a ball of flame that can only be fired diagonally upward at a fixed angle. If you miss and an object hits the floor, it cracks a floor stone, which will shatter on a second impact, cutting you off from a section of the dungeon. If an object hits you, it's game over. And, blasting one of the potions grants a boon, such as eliminating all falling objects onscreen, replacing a missing floor stone, or adding a ricochet to your fireballs.
Just going on the description alone Dragon Panic might seem like an overly simple, unremarkable game, but after one round I was hooked. It packs a definite just-one-more-time draw to rank on the leaderboards.
An iPad-only title, SpaceBlast HD [App Store] (no relation to the earlier SpaceBlast for iPhone) is a straight-up Asteroids clone that does a great job of capturing the glowing vector aesthetic -- complete with a slight flicker -- of the classic Atari shooter.
Destroy the rocks and stay alive is the name of the game, as you'd expect, and black holes, weapons upgrades, and an online scoreboard are planned in a future update.
SpaceBlast HD's "vectors" are semi-trasnlucently rendered over a space scene backdrop, an effect that evokes the old cardboard + mirror + CRT arrangement that added color to certain vintage arcade cabinets. Below the playfield are onscreen buttons for rotation, thrust, shields, fire, and hyperspace that "clack" like the real thing.
I'm hoping most readers have played a game of Asteroids at some point. SpaceBlast HD is the closest thing I've seen to that experience on the iPad.