It’s a rarity to see a perfect game come along, but Cat in a Box games has achieved the impossible with Fastar! They’ve also done it with one of the most creative premises I’ve seen in a long time.
Fastar! is an acronym. Normally, I hate acronyms, but this one is as awesome as the game itself. It stands for Fight Angry Squares: The Action RPG (an acronym inside an acronym has to violate SOME rule of grammar!). This very descriptive title says all it needs to. This game is an action RPG in which you fight squares, and boy are they angry! I understand if this sounds strange at first. Trust me, it is more fantastical than you can even imagine.
The game takes all of the sloppy, overdone angles out of the genre and isn’t ashamed to admit it. There’s no storyline, no map, no NPCs, and no experience system. You can run from left to right or right to left (the latter only returns you to the beginning of the level), you can swing your sword, and you can slightly jump. Jumping isn’t needed, but it can be fun for style-sake. Instead of experience, you can use money you get from killing squares to refill your health and upgrade your stats when you hit the periodic safe zones. Your character also has magic to use. At the beginning of the game, you can pick from about a dozen spells so you’ll have one to use on the level. You can even be extra bold and choose none if you’re tough enough to try.
So what of these squares that keep being mentioned? That’s right, I can read your thoughts. Be afraid. Well, the squares are the baddies in this game. They really are just squares of different colors and sizes. Based on the colors, they will attack in different patterns. Be afraid of the black and pink squares, and the largest purple ones. That’s all the warning I’ll give you on colors. Still, the simplicity grants the game some great character. I’m not sure what is about the fact that you are attacking abstract cuboidal objects, but it just makes the game more fun. Another great piece of flavor to the squares is that they’ll steal money from you if they beat you. It’s neat to see the tables get turned in games, and the levity takes the pain out of losing.
So what is the goal of Fastar? To finish the level. There are multiple difficulties (one where the squares can even use the same magic that you can), and several modes (24 in all!). While you can likely finish the easy mode in under five minutes, hard can take about fifteen or more. In the end, there’s a global leaderboard of people’s fastest finish times in each mode. You only get to post your three initials, so prepare for the return of that arcade champion, “SEX.”
The part where this game absolutely won me over was the customization it allows. Not only do you get a choice of your magic, you can totally recolor your character. My personal one is grey-scale, but I’ve seen several creative combinations on the leaderboard (which posts your character’s image by your initials). Also, the game has quite a few control options. This is great for a disabled person, like myself. I can’t count how many games I’ve purchased only to learn that I can’t play them because of my non-working hand. The four control schemes are:
- Tilt – Tilt the device to move, tap anywhere to attack.
- Swipe – Swipe to move, tap anywhere to attack.
- Gamepad – Buttons for left and right, tap anywhere else to attack.
- One-Handed – “Roll” a bar at the bottom to move, tap above the bar to attack.
It’s really nice to see a game remember that not everyone likes a particular scheme.
Fastar! has become one of my favorite iPhone games ever released and has a coveted spot on my home page (along with Sneezies, Skee-Ball, Street Fighter IV, & Poker Quest). I’ve even gifted the app to every friend I have with an iPhone. I can’t recommend this title enough. Everyone with an iPhone should own it. (NOTE: At the time of publishing this review, Fastar! is still available for FREE on the App Store…so really, what are you waiting for?!)