243744_largerAs a child I remember playing Galaxian several times. Each time I think I reached as far as a few levels in and then failed. It was a fun distraction but the arcade formula never struck a chord with me.  Understandably I approached Chillaxian [$1.99], by Madgarden, with caution. Can this part spiritual successor/part parody win me over on this classic genre?

Well, that is a tough question. First off, Chillaxian has a lot in-line with its inspiration. You control a spaceship and fire at wave after wave of alien craft. You have extra lives and the pod mechanic, which increases your firepower and chance to be hit. Waves continue to increase in difficulty and eventually you will lose, classic arcade gameplay.

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This is more or less where the similarities end; right off the bat you will notice a slew of new mechanics. First, the aliens swarm in an interesting and modern fashion. As they expand and contract you have a chance to fire on the more powerful ships at the top of the formation.  The aliens themselves come in new varieties and introduce new mechanics. Some may take two shots to destroy while others make their attack runs in new patterns. These new ships not only increase the challenge, but they also do two important things: First, they game is much more strategic now as you must be aware of what you are shooting and when, and second, there is constant sense of discovery as you proceed to each new level.

The classic mechanic of starting from square one at the end of each failed attempt is done away with. While there is no true save or continue option, once you have conquered at least wave 10, you will be able to resume from wave 11, 21, 31 and so on. While not original to Chillaxian, this mechanic greatly increases replay value and reduces frustration.

Chillaxian not only goes beyond the classic mechanically but also in presentation. While an obvious homage to the era, Chillaxian adds a splash of fluidity to the entire system.  Ships glide and flow smoothly and the constant shifting of the formation is mesmerizing.  The graphics for firing and ship destruction are also gleefully over the top and dramatic. This all serves to add a bit of humor to the whole affair.  An excellent soundtrack accompanies the game and this is a rare situation where I recommend playing this arcade game with speakers or headphones on.

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Getting controls right on a touch screen is key and Chillaxian nails it. Keeping things simple, tapping the left side of the screen moves you left, the right, right and firing is automatic. This is so intuitive that I never once found myself blaming failure on the  missed touch command. The automatic firing does add almost a new challenge to the game as positioning of the ship becomes important to properly guide and arc shots. The whole enterprise would have failed if they had not gotten this right, and I am happy to say they have.

Chillaxian is still an arcade game and a clear homage to Galaxian. Despite the increased variety and addition of “save points” it cannot escape its highly simplistic yet entirely classic roots. If you have fond memories of pumping quarters into arcade machines, Chillaxian is going to be right up your alley. Otherwise, it's a great temporary distraction with a ton of retro flair.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • curtisrshideler

    Can this game be turned and played in portrait mode? If so, I'll probably pick it up!

    • Paul Pridham

      No, but I may add it along with the iCade support. The playfield is wide so will require some adjustment for portrait.

  • somedumbgamer

    Not at the moment but it really should. I'm still loving it and feel silly I was on the fence, initially. Great game!

  • joaquin_ondamoon

    No mention of iCade support? It would seem like a no brainer for this type of game.

    • Paul Pridham

      I will be adding iCade support in the next update or so.

    • VeganTnT

      Don't forget that ios7 is bringing standards for apple approved controllers. While I don't know if it's the case here, it might be that the dev is waiting to see how the standards effect iCade support as apple might block it in favor of their own standards or something like that. I'd imagine an indie dev may not like the idea of spending time implementing something that may break the game in the next few months.

      • Paul Pridham

        I will indeed add whatever controller support I can in an update, as well as see if I can get a nice portrait layout working. The playfield is wide and shallow, so could be tricky.

  • Eseres

    There is one arcade game like this i really miss, but i can't remember the name of it. All i know is that it was one just like this kind, but you got power-ups that added lenght to your wings and fire power. Damn! Wish i knew the name of it...
    Not Galaga or Galaxy, but it kind of looked like 1942 and those shooters.
    But this was back in the 80's/90's, and i played it on a arcade machine somewhere.
    I hope those old arcade games one day will make a retro comeback, because the 80's/90's was the best time in my life. Before the norwegian gov. chose to bann all arcade halls here due to "gambling problems"...

    I MISS THE ARCADE HALLS!!! BRING THEM BACK, DAMMIT!!!
    Imagine those days... The warm sun, a soda on top of the arcade machine and the pockets stuffed with coins. Those were the days! Walking into a arcade hall wondering; Do i play Double Dragon or Bomb Jack first, or do i go straight for the Shinobi machine? Arcade halls was were you met and hang out with your friends to late at night. Trying to impress your girlfriend with a new highscore and all that...

    I WANT A TIME MACHINE NOW!!! I WANT TO BE A KID AGAIN AND BE BACK IN THE 80'S!!!

    • Eseres

      Oh! And yes, i got grounded ALOT for coming home WAY TOO late at night, and got yelled at by my parents :P

      Kids today missed out on a lot of fun. Now those days are only stories and memories...

      • slamraman

        Moon Cresta was my personal favourite but Galaxians was beautifully brutal.

  • nonstickron

    Radiant is my go to game of this genre. I like the depth with the story and weapon upgrades. This could use some if that.

    • Protoman

      I play radiant all the time still. That game is addicting.

  • WonderingIf

    There is the iOS game called Warblade (still on the App Store). Warblade is a Galaxian-like game with waves of alien craft, power ups, and a bit of personality. Anyone play that one? It is just another good game of this type.

  • paulkane

    And let's not forget Plasma Sky! That game smokes it.

    • nonstickron

      Huh... Looks like I grabbed that when it was free and deleted it without trying it. I'll give it a whirl.

      • nonstickron

        Very nice. Brought Isotope to mind...twin stick shooter with a lot of depth and similar line-art style. Unfortunately it never got updated for retina, never mind widescreen.

  • joaquin_ondamoon

    As long as we're talking old school shooters: Time Pilot!! I was on vacation recently, and the place I stayed at had a MAME emulator setup in an old arcade cabinet. Played Time Pilot for hours, amongst some other old 80's games.

    Good times....

    • Paul Pridham

      I loved Time Pilot, and similarly, Gyruss. Very visceral.

  • Adams Immersive

    Thanks!

    (And I don't think Apple will block iCade support--it's just a Bluetooth keyboard as far as iOS is concerned.)

  • Royce

    This game is fantastic.

Chillaxian Reviewed by Brad Cummings on . Rating: 4