Super Crossfire HD, a terrific new take on Space Invaders that was developed by Radiangames and published by Chillingo, is now available from the app store. Despite the familiar neon graphics and side-to-side arcade shooter style, the included twists really up the ante and make this a compelling challenge.
Super Crossfire HD Pros:
- Familiar neon-on-black aesthetic, smooth animations
- Upbeat techno soundtrack complements frantic gameplay
- Responsive and intuitive controls give good feeling of precision and easy warping
- Lots of upgrades and unlockables
- Crystal integration for leaderboards and achievements
Super Crossfire HD Cons:
- Snagging power-ups can be difficult in the heat of battle
- Can be difficult to differentiate exploding craft, enemy fire, and gems as they mix together
The core gameplay is tried-and-true, tasking you with sliding your automatically-firing space craft back-and-forth across the screen bottom while enemy invaders similarly slide back-and-forth above you, returning fire in an attempt to deter your offensive tactics. Destroyed enemies often cause gems to rain down, which are collected by running over them and used to power a special weapon with incredible destructive power. Destroying all enemies on-screen will launch the new wave of enemies, bringing more densely-packed foes with stronger defenses and more firepower. The difficulty ramps up fairly quickly, as the lower screen becomes blanketed by enemy fire, making it difficult to avoid without taking damage. This is where the game’s big twist takes center stage. Since the enemies don’t slowly scroll downward from the screen top as in the classic arcade game, there is plenty of space at the screen top to accommodate your ship, which has a simple warp ability that instantly transports you behind the enemy, momentarily avoiding fire and leaving enemies open to attack. A quick response by the enemies will have you under the gun again in no time, so warping back to the other side becomes an attractive option.
Progressing through the game requires passing through five chapters, each with a few dozen waves worth of battle. Upgrade points earned for successful contests can be spent every few waves to improve your ship or your abilities, offering faster movement, stronger armor, increased shot speed, wider shot spread, and more. These upgrades help tremendously to keep you alive and shooting. Enemies require different strategies as you press on, as many are equipped with shields that must be deactivated before they can be killed, while others can only be killed from one side or another. There are even occasional enemies that do a quick fly-by above or below the enemy line. Defeating them will leave a special power-up behind, which can be captured by warping straight across from it. These power-ups can initiate slo-mo, snag a temporary shield of your own, and more. A fully-powered Super Weapon will also hurl a solid stream of ammo at the enemies, taking down shielded and non-shielded baddies alike. Victory points also can earn you advantages and twists on the gameplay, such as doubling all points scored or clearing the screen of enemy fire each time you warp from one side to the other.
The graphics are vibrant and crisp, utilizing the familiar neon-against-black aesthetic that dominates the genre. Enemies are fairly easy to distinguish from one another, and explosions mixed with enemy fire mixed with falling gems can make for a hectic scene. Various levels of camera tilt give the game some additional style points. Animations are smooth and controls are very responsive. There are 3 control options: slider, buttons, and tilt. We preferred the default slider method, as tilt tends to be less precise in these twitch games than we care for. Simply move one thumb back-and-forth and the ship reacts accordingly. Two fingers on-screen will cause you to warp, so tapping your other thumb while your first continues to control movement is mindlessly easy. Tapping the S button when activated will unleash the Super Weapon. The soundtrack has a techno/club feel, complementing the action-heavy and often frantic gameplay nicely.
Replay value is great, with solid gameplay mechanics that will have you firing up this gem again and again. Crystal integration brings global leaderboards and achievements to earn. A universal HD version for $2.99, Super Crossfire HD is a 4.5-Dimple champ.
Super Crossfire HD Review,