On August 5, 2008, iLounge published iPhone Gems: Games to Show Off Apple’s Devices, a feature article looking at six games that interestingly showed off the iPhone OS. Today, we are rating these games in separate reviews. This review focuses on espressoSoft’s Star Smasher ($3); you can read the full article, with screenshots of all of the games together, through the link above.
We’ve been following Star Smasher for a little while, and perhaps with a little too much anticipation. We’re huge fans of Nintendo’s classic Star Fox, one of two arcade-style games that helped to introduce audiences to the idea of polygonal 3-D space shooters.
Someone at Apple clearly liked the game too, as it used a Star Fox-like demo called Touch Fighter as an early demonstration of the iPhone’s 3-D capabilities; we hoped that it would be transformed into a real game in time for the App Store’s release.
Star Smasher is, as its creator has explained, an ode to Star Fox. You’re placed in command of a spaceship that is viewed from the back as it flies into the screen, avoiding asteroid, space ship, and mine-like obstacles, shooting and dodging while power-ups appear. Hit too many obstacles and your ship’s shields run down, leaving you open to instant death. Shoot enough obstacles and you’ll rack up points.
Perhaps our expectations were too high for Star Smasher, but the reality of the game is that it’s little more—for now, at least—than the Touch Fighter demo Apple showed months ago.
The screen is packed with rocks, which in addition to occasional enemy space ships and the depth charge-styled explosives they lay on the screen, constitute the entirety of what you’re trying to shoot or avoid. Tapping the screen fires your lasers. If you’re lucky enough to grab a power up, which is always a challenge, your lasers change from green to blue. You just keep shooting, flying through rocks, and racking up points. That’s it—it doesn’t seem like there’s a destination, more to the mission, or even a map of places to go.