Review: Vector Blaster by Rude Scotsman
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Games With Balls, and One with Blasting. Additional details may be found in the original article.
The classic arcade game Tempest didn’t blow us away 20 years ago, but its later Jeff Minter-designed sequels Tempest 2000 and Tempest X3 were utterly superb. Rude Scotsman has borrowed the basic Tempest formula for a remake of sorts, Vector Blaster ($3), which doesn’t trump Minter’s kings of the hill, but still offers a fun and unique iPhone gaming experience. You swipe either left to right or up and down to move a spaceship on the edge of a 3-D wireframe “web” shape, shooting and collecting objects that fly upwards from the bottom of the shape towards your closer edge. An energy bar lets you know how many times you’ve missed shooting objects before they reach the edge, and the shape begins to break—slowly reforming itself—when certain objects aren’t shot in time. Thus, you’re limited in movement and more likely to miss additional shots. But you can also get blaster power-ups, including double- and triple-wide shots, to expand the width of your shooting ability.
Some of these elements, along with the lack of enemies that crawl on the edge of the web, stand out as obvious differences with Tempest, but the only one that is truly better is the occasional boss confrontation—a stage where you need to survive waves of items that are sent out from the center of the web to destroy you hit by hit. One gets the sense that there are still a bunch of tweaks left to be made to Vector Blaster, increasing the size of the web to make it more visible, the size and color of the power-ups to make them more discernible, and the interface, which has an odd system for pausing and none to continue where you left off. As-is, this is a good game for the $3 asking price, but as Jeff Minter demonstrated years ago, the Tempest formula can easily become great with a little extra AV work; we really hope to see the developer follow Tempest 2000’s example and become more than just a good alternative to a really old polygonal shooter. iLounge Rating: B.