iDracula: Undead Awakening iPhone, iPod Touch Review
How do you make a twin-stick shooter for a platform with no actual sticks or buttons at all? The developers have come up with the rather inelegant, but workable, solution of transposing two ‘control wheels’ onto the bottom corners of the iPhone’s screen.
As with other shooters in the genre the left ‘stick’ controls movement, whilst your character shoots in whatever direction the right ‘stick’ is pointed. As the name suggests, iDracula has a horror theme, and casts you as Van Helsing-style vampire hunter fighting off werewolves, vampires and unidentifiable green crawling things.
There are two modes on offer here – Rush mode hands you a Minigun with infinite ammo, and challenges you to kill as many of the non-stop swarming army of werewolves as possible before dying.
This is fun if you’re only looking for a quick blast of shooting fun, especially as you’re unlikely to survive for very long, but for a bit more depth you’ll have to turn to the Survival mode that provides a longer and broader gameplay experience.
You start off with a puny pistol that takes several shots to kill even the most basic of enemies, but slaughtered foes will randomly drop ammo, health and better guns. You can soon upgrade to a rifle, which as well as being more powerful will knock enemies back. The crossbow and grenade launcher are even more useful as they’re capable of multiple kills with a single shot, and the Minigun can keep the hordes at bay with ease. It takes a good few minutes before you’ll ever see the super-powered laser gun they’ve nicknamed the BFG, and even then ammo for this weapon is usually scarce.
Although you can switch weapons at any time by simply swiping the bottom of the screen, doing so while being mauled by werewolves can be a tad tricky. Luckily there’s the option to automatically switch to the best weapon when you pick up a new one, and most of the time this will serve you well.
The Survival mode also includes a perk system. When you gain a certain number of points (3000, 6000, 12,000 etc.) then you’re given a choice of four random bonuses to choose from. These range from increased health, walking speed, reload speed, scoring and ammo capacity to more varied perks such as the chance of blocking some attacks, an instant health refill, a new weapon, limited invulnerability ending in death and the ability to slowly drag dropped items towards you.
These perks can be stored up and used at any time, so you soon realise that it’s usually worth waiting until you’re in a dire situation before activating these potential saviours. The flip-side is that you never know which perks you’ll be given a choice of, so using the right perk at the right time can often be the difference between survival and failure.
Just as Geometry Wars 2 added an extra twist to gameplay by forcing the player to stay close to killed enemies to collect Geoms, iDracula also makes killing from a distance an undesirable option by only giving you a few seconds to collect dropped items before they disappear. This can make pushing through throngs of enemies to pick a few health potions a viable tactic.
Currently there is only one level that the game is set on, but for 59p you can’t really complain and the game is so frantic that you’ll rarely be looking at the background anyway. The developers are promising an update containing two new levels, another game mode and some new creatures and weapons, but the price will be going up with the update so it’s better to buy sooner rather than later.
The game usually takes around 15-20 seconds to load, which may not seem like much, but for a quick-fire mobile phone game it’s an irritation if you just want to play a quick blast while on the move.
iDracula is a polished and enjoyable title though, and one that you’ll be coming back to time and time again to try and beat your scores and perfect your tactics. Best of all it’s proven that twin-stick shooters are a genre that can work on the iPhone, and hopefully this will open the floodgates for many more quality examples to follow.