With their newest game Velocispider, developer Retro Dreamer really lives up to its name, capturing the sights, sounds, feel, action, competitiveness and most importantly…fun, of a classic arcade shooter. A test of reflexes, memorization and luck, Velocispider quickly feels like a an old friend that you haven’t seen for a few decades.
Although, one thing you never really got with the classic arcade shooters of the past, was a creative back story, Velocispider on the other hand has one, and it’s as quirky as the game itself. Velocispider (the good guy) is half arachnid, half Velociraptor and wears a huge laser cannon atop its head. The CEO of an evil corporation has commanded his army of robotic sea creatures to steal the Velocispider’s precious eggs, with the intent of feasting on this rarest of delicacies. But it doesn’t stop there, the ranks of his evil mutant aquatic army even have cool, fear-inspiring names like Sharktopus, Whale Bomber, Pearl of Peril and Urchin of Menace and their own unique attack patterns. How awesome is that?!
Velocispider is a level-based arcade game which has you trying to make your way through 20 increasingly difficult levels, each of which is made up of multiple, carefully choreographed waves of enemies. As Velocispider lays down a constant stream of laser fire, you simply tilt your device left and right to move him accordingly, trying to take out as many egg-thieving robots as you can whilst avoiding return fire. For about every five enemies you destroy, a power up will drop from the sky. This could be bonus points, a spare health heart, or a temporary weapon upgrade including rapid fire, double “bullets”, or spray “bullets”. If you want a slightly more powerful round, you can hold your finger on the screen to charge up your cannon and release to launch. This super-charged beam will make its way through multiple enemies and really packs a punch.
Be careful not to lose all three of your hearts (which are recoverable via bonus drops) or have all three of your eggs stolen (these cannot be recovered), otherwise your run will be over. At the end of a game, you can continue at the last level, or start over. Starting back from the first level and working your way through, is definitely the easiest way to earn a high score. The action can get pretty intense with bullets flying everywhere, so the best advice I can offer is to always be mindful of enemy fire which might be floating down slowly, for if you don’t pay attention, you may quickly find yourself down a few hearts.
An aspect of the game that I particularly loved was the level design and the fact that the waves are exactly the same for every play through of the game. The only randomness being in when the enemies shoot and the power ups and bonus items that are released, both of which keep the game feeling new each time you play. One of my favorite things about classic arcade shooters was this same style of level design, so l felt that this choice really added to Velocispider’s retro charm. By remembering the enemy patterns, you can learn from your mistakes and make it that one step further on your next play through.
When competing with other players on the Game Center leaderboards, (outside of the power up drops) little is left to luck, as you are all playing the exact same game, with the exact same groupings of enemies. As you move up in the rankings (perhaps eventually reclaiming that 2nd place spot by a mere 400 points) you can’t help but get a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that you really earned your place. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t welcome a second, endurance-style gameplay mode that was completely random…hint hint.
In case you weren’t aware, Retro Dreamer is just a two-man development team made up of an artist and illustrator (Craig Sharpe) and a programmer (Gavin Bowman). It never ceases to amaze me that such a polished and fun game can be created in just 5 weeks time by such a small team! Gavin and Craig’s development blog makes for some very fascinating reading! Decked out in all its pixel art glory thanks to Craig’s graphics and a lively chiptunes soundtrack from musician Whitaker Blackall, Velocispider is a feast for any arcade gaming fan, that’s as savory as even the largest and juiciest of Araknosaur eggs. It will certainly strike a chord with anyone who cut their (gaming) teeth on the likes of Space Invaders and Galaxian. Quite possibly the studio’s best work to date, Velocispider is available on the App Store now as a universal app for just 99¢.