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Espgaluda II review

Damien McFerran


One of the arcade world's most famous blasters hits the App Store, but has anything been lost in translation?

Rating:

Verdict: Hardcore Japanese shooters the iPhone might not seem like the best combo but this game proves just how great a gaming device Apple's machine truly is.

Platform: iPhone 3GS and 3rd Gen iPod Touch (not compatible with older iPhones or iPod Touch models)

Pros: It's like having an arcade machine in your pocket with bags of gameplay and excellent connectivity with Open Feint

Cons: Doesn't work on older hardware, gameplay won't be to everybody's taste

Version Reviewed: 1.0.1

Publisher: Cave

Price: £5.49 (lite version available)

More Info: App Store or Cave website

Pumping coins into arcade machines isn’t a pastime many modern gamers indulge in these days but there was a time when any player worth his or her salt would gravitate towards their local chippy in order to experience the finest games the industry could offer. More often than not those games were cash-sucking shooters packed with bullets, massive end-of-level bosses and an incredible degree of challenge.

iPhone owners who are wondering what all the fuss was about can now relive this bygone era with Cave’s port of Espgaluda II, a modern take on the classic 2D vertically-scrolling blaster.

Espgaluda II revolves around a typically nonsensical storyline involving magical powers and evil forces but thankfully you don’t need to feel empathy for the characters in order to enjoy the game. In fact the plot can be ignored in favour of savouring the awe-inspiring amount of on-screen activity.

Espgaluda II sits comfortably in a shooter sub-genre known rather ominously as “bullet hell”. For most of the game the display is awash with enemy projectiles and more often than not your ultimate objective is simply to navigate through the storm without getting hit.

Thankfully when you do get the opportunity to return fire you can do so with a fair amount of gusto. In addition to your standard shot – which can be powered up by collecting special items dropped by destroyed enemies – you can unleash a special “Awakening” attack which drenches the playing area with plasma death and boosts your score. However, such offensive strength is short-lived and should only be used as a last resort.

You might expect a game such as Espgaluda II – which relies very much on pixel-perfect movement and lightning-fast reactions – to struggle on a device which lacks a traditional physical interface. However, the tried-and-tested “drag to move” control method works beautifully and in many cases is actually more precise than a stick-and-buttons system.

To mix things up there are several control options available. The most basic automates many of the key functions so the player can concentrate on moving around the screen but hardcore players will want to pick the advanced choice, which is trickier to master but gives complete command over proceedings and is closer to the feel of the original coin-op.

Espgaluda II doesn’t put up much of a fight before it sheds its secrets but merely completing the game is just the beginning. Thanks to savvy integration with the Open Feint gaming network you can challenge friends to see who has the most deadly shooter skills. There are also several achievements to unlock, which further enhances the longevity of the game. To round it all off there is even a special iPhone mode which features a slightly different “Awakening” attack system - using your finger you can prod enemies to inflict damage.

Sadly all of this unbridled action is a little too demanding for older iPhones – unless you own a 3GS or a 3rd generation iPod Touch then you won’t get to experience this unique blaster – but given the chaotic nature of the gameplay and the sheer volume of on-screen activity it’s hardly surprising.

Espgaluda II is a remarkable accomplishment whichever way you look at it. It’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes but arcade veterans will lap it up; the fact that Cave has managed to condense an entire coin-op machine into a device as slim and sleek as the iPhone deserves incredible praise.

 

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Get used to seeing this much on-screen action. To call Espgaluda II hectic is something of an understatement

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