JoyJoy ($2) is a frantic, flashy shooter from Radiangames. Originally released on Xbox Live Indie Games four years ago, JoyJoy just hit the App Store this week with touchscreen controls. The developer has noted the scoring system has been revised for the new mobile version, as has the game’s UI.
From the start, JoyJoy’s look reminded us of an old-school handheld water tank game, where you’d have to push a button to get a ring or a ball to float to a certain place. It’s simple, but inviting, with fluid animation. Screenshots don’t really do the game justice. Your small ship is trapped inside a similar, blue area and you must zoom around, fending off enemies with a variety of weapons as you dip and dive past them. Each new level — referred to as a wave — brings new enemies, patterns, and challenges.
Luckily, the controls in JoyJoy are much more precise than in those old floaty games. For such an action-packed game, we found them quite enjoyable. Using onscreen controls, one stick controls your ship, and the other fires — though firing is done automatically, you can take manual control if you’d prefer. Another button switches through six different weapons, which can all be upgraded, and a fourth button activates Ultrafire mode, unleashing a rapid-fire torrent of shots from your ship. We played the game on an iPad mini and found the onscreen controls worked fine, but we can see why controller support would be quite welcome for a game like this — if you have a controller, your thumbs will thank you.
To the average gamer who isn’t a huge shooter fan, games like these can become tiresome quickly. However, JoyJoy does a great job of providing several options to keep a gamer’s interest — five different difficulty settings are there from the start, with two unlockable settings offered as well. Control options can be changed, and achievements are saved at every level of the game. Most notably, a separate challenge mode tasks players with surviving a particular level for four minutes while trying to get the highest score possible in that time. Some players might prefer it to the more traditional wave mode.
If we had any qualms, we’d like to see JoyJoy switch up its colors a bit more — an ominous red feels welcome whenever it takes over the screen — and we wouldn’t mind larger levels and a bit more variety in the enemies. But the game’s tight control, mix of weapons, and different game modes — not to mention the $2 price tag — should give many gamers reason to consider a download. For shooting buffs, JoyJoy is a no-brainer.
iLounge Rating: B