JoyJoy iOS Review
Most genres have now moved on to such a point where the arcade days are all but forgotten, but twin stick shooters and the like are still incredibly similar to their predecessors other than the high-res graphics and complex particle systems, with there simply repetitive gameplay and local high score board. ‘JoyJoy’ is a game that fits right into that retro-feel arcade game niche that so many have been enjoying for the past 30 years.
JoyJoy has very little in the way of structure. There is no story, no progression and outside of the various challenges, there’s no aim other than beating your previous score. When you first enter the game you have two options to pick from; ‘Wave’ or ‘Challenge’ modes. Wave mode consists of playing through 25 waves of increasingly difficult enemies and the odd boss. Challenge mode offers six levels each with their own yet similar goal of surviving 4 minutes in a particular scenario.
Unlike many twin stick shooters, JoyJoy isn’t exactly a twin stick shooter in the sense that you don’t need to use both sticks. When using the left stick, your ‘ship’ will automatically aim at the nearest enemy. This works surprisingly well and certainly adds to the relaxing vibe that comes with many elements of JoyJoy. But that is down to user preference; the right stick is always available for taking manual control whenever you like, handy for if you need to do something with your hand without wanting to pausing the game. One thing I can’t quite get my head around with the controls however, is the ‘Ultrafire’ ability. Located right next to the left stick, the Ultrafire button can only be pressed whilst stationary. This often means backing off into a corner and unleashing hell for a few seconds. I can’t help but feel that using the Ultrafire should be next to the shoot button as it is essentially just another form of shoot. However, having to find a safe (-ish) place before using the ability adds some slight tactical judgement which I’m sure was the aim of the feature.
Throughout each game of ‘waves’ you will slowly pickup new weapons dropped by certain enemies. There is quite a variety of different effects each weapon is unique to, such as concentrated, high powered fire or low powered scattering-bouncing-homing bullets. Some of the challenges have a lock on which weapons you can pick from, testing your skills in multiple play-styles. Again these challenges can be very easy on the easier settings and then become nothing but a high score. The real challenge comes from the higher difficulties and of course, beating your own score.
There are five difficulties to pick from ranging from ‘relaxing’ to ‘expert’ with the addition of two extra difficulties; ‘lightning’ and ‘armoured’ which offer unique enemy traits. Lightning mode makes the enemies faster and more numerous, but easier to kill and armoured does the opposite; enemies become tougher but slower and less numerous. Picking your difficulty is half of JoyJoy’s variety in gameplay.
The graphics sure are joyful. The bright yet soft lighting with multi-coloured particles floating around is a treat to the eyes and is hugely different to the common space setting of arcade twin-stick shooters. The music however, I can’t say I cared too much for, but when music is such a big part of such a simple game, everyone has their own taste. I felt the ‘relaxing’ vibe was being pushed on me too much by the music; I don’t think an intense, fast paced shooter and soft, smooth music really fit despite the beautiful colours and playful take on such an action packed genre.
JoyJoy is certainly a game for the arcade type. Its mixture of relaxing atmosphere whilst trying to push your gaming skills to their very limit is a strange, if not ingenious design that I’m sure will really grab some people. I personally love the simplicity of having little but a high score and higher difficulty to push me forward, but the achievements are well crafted for people wanting a little more structure in their gameplay.