I recieved a pre-release version from the developer of Alien Splat and was asked to write a review. Currently, Alien Splat is still being reviewed by Apple and should be released into the wild shortly. The premise of the game is simple, splat all the aliens you can within a specified amount of time and you advance to the next level, the person with the most points tops the leaderboard. Simple enough, right? Well, yes and no.
The object of the game is simple, tap the alien space ship three times to make it disappear, after each tap a new alien object appears. Tap the alien objects and spaceships to score points. For any ship, alien, cargo box, or container you get 1-5 points. For any of the bad containers, one to five points are subtracted. The faster you complete a level the more points you score.
The tapping of said objects are not so simple. The game moves so fast and the randomness of where the alien objects appear, its difficult to tell what needs to be hit and how many times. This is slightly remedied by the tactile and audio feedback. When tapping an alien spaceship, you receive a vibration and when an item is released from the spaceship you get a whoosh sound. Upon hitting a spaceship, there needs to be a visual indicator on how many more times are needed to knockout it out. Since the spaceships require being hit three times and the item that is ‘dropped’ out of it randomly appears on the screen it gets confusing as to what the user should hit next. Also, the pause button is positioned in the field of play and as result the player can inadvertently pause the game. Which gets frustrating as you follow an object near it and accidentally hit the pause button instead of the object. This can be easily fixed by ending the field of play just below the play button or using a swipe motion to have the button appear and then disappear once play resumes.
If you want to hone your Alien smacking ways, there is practice mode where you can dictate how many objects are available for your splatting pleasure. You can also speed them up or slow them down depending on your skill set. There is also a pause and clear function. This comes in handy when you want to see how each object reacts when tapped. The positioning of the Leaderboards and Play buttons are also located in the field of play and get in the way of practice play as well. I found the practice mode to be the most fun since I found the scoring to be arbitrary. I just want to knock out all the objects. Plus, with the objects paused, I can move throw them around the screen, which for me, was kind of fun.
In the settings you can choose how difficult you want the game to play, turn off the vibration, sound effects or music. Though I am not sure why you would as the music is kinda cool and as I mention earlier, the sound affects are almost a necessity. The music has a nice spacey techno vibe that you would expect for a game where the objects fly around as if they are amped up on Mountain Dew and Pop Rocks. If you are not into the music or would rather listen to your own, you can do that as well. You can also select the level of game play from Beginner, Expert or Insane. If you struggle with winning the game, you also get the option to start at your last highest level. Which could come in handy when you set up your Leaderboard profile and post your score to the world leaderboad or see if it tops the leaders of those nearby.
Aside from the play/pause buttons getting in the way, my only real gripe is, for a game that includes ‘splat’ as part of its title, I want some splattage! Nothing splats in the game and as a result, I did not find the game overly engaging. Between my clunky fingers, how fast the objects moved and the randomness in which things are dropped once finally hit, I got frustrated and bored. However, if at the very least when the alien was hit, instead of disappearing, the alien splatted and had a corresponding splatting noise, it could be far more engaging. Depending on how the splat or corresponded splatting noise was implemented, it could be down right comedic.
As it is currently constituted, I view it as a typical iPhone game, though an original game, with above average game music and cool graphics and would probably not purchase it at the $1.99 it will cost once Apple decides to approve it. However, my 4 and 6 year old boys, both got a kick out the game. They both commented that it was difficult, though that comment came between squeals of delight and ‘Yeah, got ’em!’. In fact my 6 year old got upset when he could not find Alien Splat on his Mom’s iPhone. Nor would he accept my explanation that I recieved a special copy of it where Mom did not and that he must wait his turn to play. In looking in the App Store, it appears this is JDMdesign‘s first effort at a game and as such, it is a great first effort. Though it does appear there are others in the works and I am looking forward to what comes next. But becuase of the enjoyment my boys got out of it, dropping the $1.99 upon its release would be easy. Besides, I have spent two bucks on far worse things for them and got far less in return.