Clockwork Pixels made a splash on iOS this past March with Kitten Sanctuary [$1.99 / Free], a match-3 featuring clever game mechanics and the world's most lovable animals: kittens. Today, the developer has released their second iOS title Darkside [$1.99] and switched gears in a big way, trading the adorable kittens and casual matching for a graphically stunning and intense dual-stick shooter.

The hook in Darkside is that the game takes place on 3D planets rather than flat, enclosed arenas. It definitely has a Super Stardust HD kind of vibe, which is a very good thing as we're not likely to see that property on iOS anytime soon. The main Arcade mode in Darkside has you blasting away at asteroids floating around the planet, grabbing the powerups and items that they drop to help you clear them all. You get 3 lives to see how many planets you can clear, with the challenge increasing as you go.

The coolest part is that you can get Darkside and its Arcade mode for free, and play it to your heart's content. There's even Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards. If you like it, a 99¢ in-app purchase will unlock the full game, which includes a 100 level Mission mode and an endless Survival mode.

As you can see from the video, Darkside is a real looker. From my short time with the game it's also a lot of fun. Downloading the initial Arcade mode for free is a total no brainer if you like dual-stick shooters at all, and I think most people after just a few minutes will be dropping the 99¢ for the full game unlock. Give Darkside a look and check out our forums for even more impressions of the game.

  • nomster

    This is the sort of IAP that people should be happy about - just one off reasonable payment to get full game. Means you get to try before you buy - I hope it works out for them.

    • SoyGreen

      100% agree with you. I get so sick of the nickel and dime model so many IAPs are running. (Then basing the game around coins or something else that you need to really enjoy the game.)

      Just give me an UNLOCK like this!

      Thumbs up to Clockwork Pixels! downloading now!

      • Laszlo Tuss

        There is no problem with the "coin oriented games" where you can unlock the everything after time.

        The huge problem is the EA and GL like greed freemium, both like farmville, you have a lot what you can only unlock with iAP.
        not the same

  • Adams Immersive

    Only 20 MB! Nice. These days I expect a “looker” like this to be so big I worry more about spending the storage than spending the cash!

  • madmaxmedia

    I think the biggest problem with IAP for coins and such is that it's hard to tell what you're really getting into- are you realistically going to need to put just 1$ into the game, or $10 or $15? A one-time 'unlock' is much more upfront to the customer, whether it's $1 or $5.

  • W4TSON

    I played a little of it on my 4s and I liked what I saw, but until I get an iPad again I'll probably just wait until then so that I can enjoy it in all of its glory on the 9.7in. screen.

  • Justin Gilbert

    Pretty good game and happy with trial model, the only slightly negative thing it is that you seemingly have to pay to unlock the full mode on each device. Unless I'm doing something wrong, which is entirely possible.

  • araczynski

    demo was nice, but i don't do 'unlock full game', sell the game in whole and i'll buy.  

    only bad thing i can say about the game is that it gave me the feeling of being a ball in a pinball machine, the gameplay field felt too small.

  • MrReeee

    Fun game. Nice graphics. It does feel a bit claustrophobic, but I guess that's part of the style. 

    I agree with everyone about the shareware-style payment method vs. the hand-in-your-pocket method used in so many big developer "freemium" games. This is simple, honest and works for me. Besides, 99¢ is nothing for a fun, good looking game like this.