Do you like tacos? How about star fields, spaceships, and throwback games that trade polygons for pixels and full orchestras for beeps and bleeps that hearken back to the glory days of the Atari 2600? Developer Taco Graveyard serves up generous helpings of those elements and more (even the space tacos) in Omegapixel ($0.99), a fast and furious action game that throws in a fair bit of puzzle solving to keep you on your toes.
The first time you load a mission, Omegapixel might remind you a lot of Geometry Wars ($0.99). Using a virtual stick, you control a small space rig that zips around the cosmos and battles enemy ships. Unlike Geometry Wars, though, you barrel into enemies kamikaze-style instead of blasting them with lasers. While you’re floating like a butterfly and stinging like a battering ram with thrusters, enemies pour onto the screen in greater and greater numbers.
Enemy ships come in several varieties—some that make a beeline for you, others that converge on the pixel. On one stage, I flew around smashing into red ships that targeted the Omegapixel while blue pyramids followed my space vessel in tireless pursuit. Suddenly a vertical yellow line came sliding across the screen like a barcode scanner laser. If the line touched the pixel, I lost a life. Ignoring the red destroyers and blue pyramids for the moment, I flew to the far side of the yellow wall and tapped the lower right corner of the screen, which instantly swaps your location with the Omegapixel’s and vice versa. Teleporting put the pixel safely on the far side of the wall, but right in range of the red ships I’d let live to deal with the wall.
The key to victory lies in shielding the pixel from its enemies, while using it to shield you from yours. To get rid of the blue pyramids that zero in on my ship’s location, I had to lure them into the pixel’s fiery maw by either putting the pixel in between me and them, or waiting for them to draw close enough to touch before teleporting, which dumped the pixel right where I’d been drifting a second before. Easier said than done, especially with bouncers knocking the pixel every which way, red ships spiraling toward it, new purple walls that harmed me instead of the pixel sliding into view, and asteroids that, while harmless, distract you by stealing your attention away from real threats.
It’s stressful, but the kind of stress that leaves your senses crackling from adrenaline. Cobbling together a plan and pulling it off in a matter of moments never failed to invite a thrill of accomplishment. The game almost becomes more of a twitchy puzzler on later levels, forcing you to remain aware of the pixel’s location at all times and pull each enemy type from your memory log the moment it comes into view so you can react to the new threat appropriately.
As you play, you’ll collect credits you can use to deck out your ship: explosive teleports, extra armor plating, defense mechanisms for the Omegapixel, a line of energy that flares between you and the pixel when you teleport, incinerating anything it touches. You can earn credits the old-fashioned way by clearing Story and Arcade missions, picking up credit packs that randomly appear during play, or just drop real money on IAP credit packs and splurge on upgrades.
Like all games that control with virtual sticks, Omegapixel’s controls suffers from minor virtual-stick touchiness, but my fried reflexes cost me more missions than occasionally spot controls. Other than said spottiness and grating music (the sound effects are the right kind of bleepy retro, but the soundtrack, which you can disable, sounds like an 8-bit game that froze right in the middle of a high chord) Omegapixel is a ton of fun, and especially shouldn’t be missed at its current price of free.