Goes Nowhere Fast
Gamers hankering after some honest-to-goodness old school action, unfettered by fancy schmancy 3D visuals or ground-breaking gimmicks have been well served by Apple’s iDevices of late. The latest addition to the App Store’s ever-swelling ranks of retro flavored titles is After Dark Studios‘ arcade puzzler Portal Rush.
On paper, it’s a game that sounds as if it ticks all the right boxes, boasting a colorful visual style, against the clock arcade thrills, and a raft of levels, challenges and game modes. However, on closer inspection, PR unfortunately lacks the spark of ingenuity, that tangible sense of old meeting new, which powers the best of this recent wave of neo-retro games on iPhone.
But while it’s certainly no Pix’n Love Rush or Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, give it a chance, and PR is quite a lot of fun and does, at times, deliver a satisfying rush of nostalgia nonetheless.
The aim of the game is simple. Piloting a little laser ship, you must rush around clearing the screen of portals (hence that title) whilst avoiding the comets that zoom unpredictably around environments like deadly beach balls, before moving onto the next level. Similarly, the controls are primed for pick-up-and-play usability and are easily grasped – a swipe tells your craft where to go and… well, that’s it really. Easy, right?
Not really. The game does kick off at a worryingly relaxed pace, but thankfully soon picks up pace. While time limits are pretty forgiving throughout, the layout of portals gets more and more complex and After Dark add some neat power-ups to the mix that introduce an element of strategy and help transform the game into a more cerebral affair. Once PR gets going, it’s a largely enjoyable little brain-teaser.
That said, I do have a few gripes. Given the unpredictability of those bouncy comets and the increasingly rapid pace of levels, all too often you’ll have to rely on dumb luck rather than skill to best tougher levels. Furthermore, the inherently frustrating nature of the gameplay is further compounded by your ship’s jerky movements and intermittently unresponsive touch controls.
All in all, a bit of a mixed-bag. Half marks.
iFanzine Verdict: On the plus side, this retro inspired puzzle/shooter hybrid certainly looks the part and comes loaded with a large amount of levels and different modes. Unfortunately its dated mechanic and repetitive gameplay mean you’re likely to lose interest quickly. Best enjoyed in small doses then.