Sine Mora is a side-scrolling action arcade game that has been brought over from the Xbox and PS Vita. It played extremely well on both platforms, so expectations are high for the iOS version (out now, $5.99). Sadly, it doesn’t quite measure up. That’s not to say it isn’t any fun, because it most definitely is.
The game pits players in the shoes of multiple pilots throughout the game with each playing different roles in a rather lackluster story. Before you dive into each level, the whole screen turns black as white text fades in. I’m not one for reading a few paragraphs when bullet-hell shooting is just a tap away, so I didn’t pay much attention to the details. Then again, this is an arcade game, so story shouldn’t be a major factor.
The first thing you’ll be pleasantly surprised by are the graphics. The smooth, cool 3D animations before each level are a treat, as are the crisp 2.5D graphics once you start playing. The common criticism of iOS games is the fact that your thumb, which usually controls an on-screen joystick, covers a quarter of the screen. The developers of Sine Mora chose to deal with this in a fashion I for one haven’t seen yet — letterbox the gameplay. This leaves the main controls below the main area where all the shooting is going on, so my fat thumb won’t block me from any of the action.
The controls have been improved with a recent update. Initial impressions of the exclusive fixed joystick method weren’t great, but fortunately, a few more methods have been added. They make a world of a difference, especially the floating joystick. However, my only problem with the controls still remains — the joystick doesn’t take total control of the plane. It slides when you change direction of the stick, say from up to down, so there is a slight delay that may leave you getting shot at.
The core gameplay is brilliant. There are upgrades that make your offense much easier, and each pilot has their own unique attribute that adds welcome variety. The aim of each level is to reach the end before the timer reaches zero. Each time you shoot an enemy, the timer extends. Each time you get shot at, the timer shortens. It makes each level extremely intense and leaves you on your toes, standing up, and crouched over your screen with full concentration.
Sine Mora is a much welcome addition to the huge pile of side scrolling action arcade shooters. Although its controls aren’t as precise as they need to be in such an intense game, it’s the level of intensity and gorgeous graphics that make it an easy recommendation.