Friday, October 23, 2009

REVIEW: Occurro! for the iPhone

Occurro! is a fun and tightly designed twin stick shooter for the iPhone from developer Acceleroto. Taking inspiration from other shooters who've blazed the way for twin stick controls, Acceleroto has neatly tidied up the formula so that gamers on the iPhone will get a fitting experience, instead of one that could confuse, frustrate, or crash.

I've played Occurro! for several hours, from bus rides, to breaks between classes, and even spare time in between. I may not score the highest, but I think I have a good understanding of how the game is different from the rest in the genre, and what it has going for it above others.

Obviously, the first thing a gamer might notice about Occurro! is that it has been heavily influenced by Geometry Wars. Of course, that's not a bad comparison to draw for an iPhone game, especially because of the caliber of game that Geometry Wars represents.

As far as aesthetics go, Occurro! is very sharp, colorful, and fast. The frames keep a high pace, and each sprite is bright and bouncy. Enemies are noticeably different, threatening, and have lots of personality. The scoring counter, life counter, and bomb counter are all clear and readable, and being on a small platform, that sort of things just has to be right straight away. If I had to pick one thing out about Occurro!'s graphics, I would say that I love the tail that trails behind the player's ship. It dangles and drags, lengthens when the player speeds along, and draws in behind when the player slows down. It's probably the one thing that you could hang Occurro!'s charming and bright graphical personality on.

Just because the game is pretty, doesn't mean it doesn't everything else going on. Notably, the controls are tight and responsive. While sometimes, I'd have trouble because a bomb would deploy when I was really only picking up my thumb and putting it back down, that occurrence was rare and everything else played perfectly.

I think the most important thing that Occurro! does well is the gameplay. When you take an intense, graphically demanding, fast-paced gameplay style and put it on a mobile platform like the iPhone, it just has to work out right. While devs Acceleroto have kept the speed, immediacy, and challenge of the twin stick shooter, they've made adjustments in the gameplay elsewhere to make sure that nothing is broken, or too difficult for the player. This balance has been worked out in the enemy types, spawning rates, and health. If an enemy takes more than two hits to take down, Acceleroto made sure they moved a little slower. If an enemy is smart and dodges shots, then Acceleroto made sure that the player can outsmart it and corner it.

What does this all add up to? Basically, you're not going to get sick of Occurro! You're not going to get bored either. The challenge is perched just right and encourages you to play more and try to get better. The fact that game is really pretty doesn't hurt either. Pick up Occurro! on the App store today. It goes for a measly $0.99 and requires the iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later. You can play it on your iPhone or iPod Touch.


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