By Eric Pankoke on Tue, 06/15/2010
When iFighter Lite came out and I saw the screen shots I thought to myself “I’m buying the full version when it comes out”. The full version came out, I bought it, and even though I had forgone trying the lite version first, I didn’t regret my purchase at all. When I saw the screen shots for Super Laser I thought “I want to get this game”, and the feeling was cemented when I realized it was from the same developers that made iFighter. After spending some time with Super Laser I can only hope that this isn’t the last scrolling shooter we’ll see from EpicForce. Super Laser not only ups the ante from iFighter, but it feels like the game Assault Squadron should have been (minus the horizontal scrolling levels, though).
There’s really not a whole lot of back story to Super Laser. In fact, you really don’t know anything about what’s going on until after the last battle. Fortunately, a story isn’t really all that necessary, because you know how to blast away aliens and you know they don’t belong on our planet. Everything else is superfluous anyway. You pick between one of two ships, choose the difficulty setting (easy, normal or hard), and start the game. Basically, if you can shoot something, shoot it. They’re not going to be nice to you, so there’s no reason for you to hold back. You don’t have to destroy everything to pass a level, but of course it’s always easier to get by when you don’t have things firing away at you. Creatures will drop blue and yellow gems that give you points. They’ll also drop HP so you can recover some life.
On the weapons side you’ll get power ups to your main gun, as well as a secondary gun that acts as both shield and laser. There are three types of primary gun, but only one power up to build up / switch between the choices. Thankfully powering up your primary weapon is independent of which gun you actually have, so don’t worry if you accidentally get the wrong gun when you grab the power up. Just get the right one the next time you get the power up. Your three choices are a powerful laser that can hit one target, a multi-shot gun that only shoots forward, or a multi-shot gun that shoots in all directions. I of course prefer the latter because there are opponents that are often hard to get directly beneath and can be much more easily dispatched from the side.
The other power up is actually a weapon / shield. The item involves orbs that will float around you. The first time you get the power up you get two orbs, and the next level is four orbs. I’m not sure what happens after that, though. Anyway, you can use the orbs to deflect shots that are fired at you. Granted this isn’t nearly as nice as having an actual shield, because the orbs aren’t that big, but it’s better than nothing. The cool part is that you also get a laser that’s guided by a crosshairs that hovers above you. If you can hold that crosshairs on top of an enemy for a couple of seconds you’ll shoot out a powerful laser at the targeted enemy. This can be especially helpful during boss fights.
You can control the ship via one of three methods: joystick, touch and tilt. I don’t care for the joystick much at all, as it seems that you lose easy access to the upper reaches of the screen with that control. The tilt control actually works surprisingly well, which is uncommon for a scrolling shooter. However, I have to give the prize to the touch control once again. For some reason that seems to be the only way to get a tight enough, precise enough control mechanism to do really well with this style of game.
The game has 6 levels and a final boss, and even on the easy level the last couple of bosses are quite a challenge. Overall this game has a nice set of bad guys to fight against, but I am especially impressed with the bosses. I think Super Laser has some of the most creative end bosses I’ve seen in an iPhone scrolling shooter to date. Once I’ve beaten a shooter I don’t normally have the time or desire to go through it again at a more advanced level, but after having played through Super Laser on easy I’m now struggling through level 4 of the game on the normal level. This is definitely one of those rare shooters that are fun to play through multiple times.
Super Laser is one of the nicer looking scrolling shooters on the App Store. Unfortunately that doesn’t extend quite so much to the backgrounds. They aren’t bad, especially when you get into alien territory in the last couple of levels, but I think the backdrops in iFighter were better. Where this game shines is in enemy design. It was a nice mix of metallic foes and organic adversaries, though it would have been even better had it balanced more towards the organic. Still, the game sported a very creative group of bad guys. I really liked the end boss designs, which is where the creatures were at their most organic.
Sound was pretty standard for scrolling shooters. The audio indication that your laser was gearing up to fire was nice, and a couple of the creatures had a nice scream when they died instead of the generic explosions. These groanings should have been more pervasive on the latter levels when there were more organic villains. The music was nicely done, and while not every level had its own track, I believe there were at least three different tunes that switched up between levels.
While I figured Super Laser was going to be good, I’d say the game far exceeded my expectations. This one is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to favorite iPhone scrolling shooters. The action is fun and challenging without being completely bullet driven, the bad guys are cool looking, and the game is actually worth playing multiple times. If the full version of Air Attack doesn’t come out soon, this one might have to take the top spot on my list for now.
Overall Score: 9/10
App Store Link