Cthulhu is a horror legend. From the old short stories to modern board games and RPGs, Cthulhu gets around. Now, he’s in his very own RPG.

Cthulhu Saves the World is a delightful game. The premise is that Cthulhu has risen from the deep to take over the universe. Just as he’s about to spread insanity on the masses, someone strips him of his power. Only by becoming the ultimate hero will he get his powers back. Cthulhu learns this because he can hear the narrator talking to you. The game is wonderfully self-aware.

The game features standard RPG features: maze like areas to wander with random, turn-based battles, HP, magic, and equipping items. There are also 16-bit graphics and sound that harken back to the SNES days of yore. If you were a fan of RPGs in this era, you won’t be disappointed with this game, for the most part.

While I found the story and gameplay great, two things really make the game hard to play.

The first drawback were the controls. After a little googling, I learned that this title is a port of an XBox Indie title. They didn’t spend any time changing the controls for a touch screen, though. When moving around, you have an ‘A’ button on the screen that you can use to interact with things, a menu button, and a run button (that I never got to work). When you want to move, you have to touch the screen anywhere that’s empty (there isn’t much of that to go around) and drag in the direction you want to go. This makes it a bit hard to take a single step.

In combat, it’s even worse. The developer didn’t make menus work through tapping. Instead, there is a large ‘A’ button in the lower right and a ‘B’ button in the lower left and if you want to navigate anything, you have to tap and drag. This is made harder in that the only area you have to do so is over the text you’re trying to see.

The other big problem is the screen orientation. 99% of iPhone games that play in landscape mode orient so you have to turn your device counter-clockwise. Of the ones that don’t, 99% let you change the orientation in the settings. When Cthulhu starts up, the developer splash screen is oriented normally, but then the game flips the other way. There is no way to change it back.

This means on the iPhone, your hand covers the speaker. The game might as well not even be universal due to this problem on the iPad. I use a keyboard dock on mine, as do most people I know who have one. I have to take the iPad out of the dock and flip it over to play this game (I have the same problem with Peggle HD, sadly).

In Conclusion

If you can get over the game’s two large flaws (which, honestly could easily be fixed with an update that includes the orientation option, and a virtual D-pad), Cthulhu Saves the World is a very fun game. The self-deprecating dialogue is enough to make me play this one all the way to the conclusion. If you’re a fan of old school RPGs, this is a fun and cheap title that you should at least give a chance.