You know how it is: sometimes you don’t have time for a big, elaborate meal so you grab a snack as you’re running out the door. It’s the same with gaming. There are some epic games—Dragon Age, for instance—that deserve and require a considerable amount of time. Then there are the bite-size, game versions of snacks like Little Guy Games’ Battle Blasters for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It may be the video game equivalent of a bag of chips and a soda, but sometimes, it really hits the spot.
Battle Blasters is a one-on-one, top down action shooter that definitely falls into the “simple to learn, tough to master” category of so many brawlers and fighting games. Sure, you can maybe squeak by on brainless button mashing, but take some time to really learn the characters, moves, and combos, and a whole new level of strategic fun opens up.
Basic movement and control are simple. Swipe left and right to move horizontally, and move forward to fire in one of two basic modes—fast or slow (each type of weapon has advantages, counter moves, and disadvantages). Each of the game’s six unlockable characters have different weapons and moves, plus unique special powers like dual cannons, high-power rockets, or extra damage reflection. It’s starting to sound like this little snack has a big meal hidden inside it. It does. I’m a button-masher when it comes to playing these types of games but I can see how a little bit of OCD and time would really pay off.
There is a two-players-on-one-device mode, which is pretty awkward and not that successful due to the size of the iPhone. When the planned online mode is implemented I suspect multiplayer Battle Blasters will come into its own. For the present, the single-player experience is worth the $3 price of admission.
Graphically, the game is going for a cartoon-y, anime style reminiscent of Street Fighter and although the stages and settings are colorful and varied, the characters themselves are very small and consequently lack a bit of personality. There are some nice weapon effects and the music is upbeat, fitting solidly in the tradition of old-school arcade shooters and fighting games.
The best thing about Battle Blasters is that it’s a perfect game to pick up and play for a couple of rounds, with some real depth and strategy hidden away for anyone with the inclination to explore it. Snack size, maybe, but pretty darn tasty, too.
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