Friday, August 27, 2010

Game Review - Bit Pilot

Bit Pilot - $0.99 (Appshopper Link)

Video games have been around for a bit over 30 years now, but in that relatively short time, they've evolved considerably. Just about every aspect of gaming has changed - the graphics, the storytelling, the exposure, and the types that are out there. We've got billion dollar companies churning out games with budgets bigger than Hollywood movies and teams of more than 100 people. Yet despite this shift (or maybe because of it) a new subgenre has emerged in the gaming world - "retro games".

Originally it just included remakes or rereleases of old classics, mainly for nostalgic reasons. You're familiar with these classics: Namco's Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man series, Pong, Space Invaders. For whatever reason, people of a certain age like going back to these games in spite of the availability of games that are, at least on the surface, far superior.

Then came the arrival of a new type of retro game. This new type of retro game can be any genre, such as puzzle, action, shooter, etc. but usually includes some or all of the following traits: low-resolution pixelated graphics, 8-bit electronic "chip-tune" music, simple, vibrant color schemes, and lack of a meaningful storyline.

Bit Pilot is one of those new types of retro games. It's not a remake of a classic from the 70s or 80s, but it looks as if it could have been. The premise is simple. You're in an asteroid field and you're supposed to navigate your little ship to avoid the rocks and collect medicine-looking things for points. That's it. That's the whole game. Pixelated graphics? Check. Awesome chiptunes? Check. Storyline? Nope.

You control your little dot of a ship by swiping in the appropriate direction with your thumb. To accelerate faster, you use both you left and right thumbs. This is necessary when you get to the higher levels and the rocks move much faster. Some of the medicine things add a layer of shields to your ship, allowing you to take more damage. Occasionally a big laser beam comes and covers the whole horizontal length of the screen, so your reflexes are important.

As mentioned in my Tilt to Live review, these kinds of simple games that you can pick up for a few minutes to go for a high score are tremendously ideal for the iPhone platform. And in spite of this simplicity, there remains a motivation to keep playing. The game records your total score across all plays, and at certain point totals another song is unlocked, allowing you to listen to said song while playing. When you unlock all 3 songs, your next goal is to unlock iPhone wallpapers. Your single-game scores in both Easy and Normal modes are also posted to the online, OpenFeint-enabled leaderboards so you can see how you're doing against others in the world (though the game claims that you're being compared to the rest of the galaxy).

For $1, I'd recommend it for sure, especially if you like chiptunes.

Old-school title screen ftw?

I died shortly after taking this screenshot.

Wallpaper A unlocked!