November 7, 2011 | Andy Boxall
The full title of this new game is Kyotokei – Polarity Shooter and it’s a direct port of the WiiWare game, which was itself a clone of classic shoot ‘em up Ikaruga. The main difference is that rather than being another vertically scrolling shooter, Kyotokei scrolls sideways and enemies come at you from all sides.
The plot is something about an evil witch invading a peaceful realm, and you must fight back by riding in on your giant bird and casting spells against her and her minions. The hook is your ability to change color and absorb similarly hued enemy fire, which in turn powers up your special weapon.
Controlling your character can be done either with a virtual joystick or with the more familiar touch system – which is the better option, and all the while your finger is on the screen an autofire is activated. The only other controls come in the shape of your color change button and the ‘homing missile’ special attack button.
The touch control system is adequate, however it never felt particularly precise and on occasions where a delicate movement was required it was all too easy to fly off into a stray bullet. It also seemed like the touch controls didn’t respond right to the edge of the screen, resulting in more than one impromptu ceasefire! But this was nowhere near as irritating the pause in weapons fire when you altered colors. To maximize the amount of bullets you absorb, and to avoid getting killed, you often need to switch colors quite quickly and when you stop shooting for a moment each time, enemies tend to stay around far longer than you want them too.
Aside from the color switch, Kyotokei is a fairly standard shoot ‘em up, with waves on baddies determined to wipe you out and a big end-of-level boss to defeat. There are five levels in all, plus three difficulty levels to the game. The iTunes blurb says it runs at 60fps and there’s no denying the fast scrolling background looks very smooth, as do the sprites.
Graphically it appears to be a direct conversion from the Wii, however its style reminded me more of a PC Engine game from 20 years ago. This isn’t a criticism as such, just that the game doesn’t look very modern. It’s also a shame the developers haven’t spent a little time adapting the fonts and pre-game screens for iOS, as they have a very ‘default’ and often ugly look to them.
Despite a few gameplay niggles, Kyotokei is quite good fun and it rattles along very nicely. Even on Normal difficulty it’s a challenge, and it’ll take a while to unlock all five levels. After that though, there doesn’t seem to be anything else and there’s no multiplayer mode to keep you entertained. The game is universal for the iPhone and iPad, however I found it more pleasurable on the iPhone; as holding the tablet and using the touch control system was too awkward.
Hardcore shoot ‘em up fans will find Kyotokei challenging and enjoy the bullet-hell style gameplay, but everyone else may find the lack of depth and replay value a concern. The $1.99/£1.49 price tag makes it worth a try though, especially if you liked the Wii version.
- Smooth and fast gameplay.
- Interesting color change mechanic.
- Universal for the iPhone and iPad.
- Graphics are a little old fashioned, and some of the fonts used are ugly.
- Slightly annoying controls.