Syder Arcade HD iOS
There is no shortage of side-scrolling shooters on smart phones, or any platform for that matter. So why should you play Syder Arcade HD? The simple answer is, you can’t afford not to. A port of the excellent PC version, Syder Arcade HD has to deliver the hard-as-nails difficulty and nostalgia it promises, but also match up to its big brother. SAHD was never going to be an easy game, and the unforgiving, unapologetic challenge of the original has arrived intact. There will be a lot of shooting, and a lot of dying. Studio Evil take their name a little too seriously, and undoubtedly twiddle moustaches whilst laughing at each inevitable death. If the gameplay weren’t so compelling, I’d probably give up. Probably.
There are two modes to not succeed at in SAHD: Campaign and Survival. Campaign is made up of six levels, each with different and surprisingly varied objectives for the genre, woven together by a decent narrative. This mode is very well-implemented considering most rival games simply pit the player against a few different streams of enemies with no explanation. Survival Mode has its own level. Increasingly difficult waves of enemies and, eventually, mini-bosses want nothing more than to keep you off the top of the online leaderboards. So far, they’ve enjoyed great success in my case. Whilst toggling the difficulty does change up the experience massively, SAHD would benefit from a couple more survival levels to keep it fresh.
SAHD has three different ships to choose from before every level, each with their own attributes. On low difficulties I could get away with the lightly-armoured, heavily-armed option. However, as I became more confident and more adventurous, I needed all the armour I could get and had to stick with the appropriately-named “Mule”.
My main complaint when it comes to smartphone games is always the controls. Too often I find myself cursing whatever power it is that made my thumbs so infuriatingly opaque and so ridiculously clumsy. Thanks to some extremely tight touch controls in SAHD, I now know that the problem isn’t (exclusively) my cack-handedness. In a genre where absolute precision is vital, Studio Evil do not disappoint.
Yet another area in which SAHD excels is the presentation. It outshines similar offerings on the platform, both visually and musically. On my iPhone 4S, it looks great. I can only imagine how much better it would be on a tablet. Playing in public is almost disappointing, as it means playing on silent (and trying to stifle any and all emotional responses to the many miserable deaths), missing out on the great soundtrack that pulses in the background. The PC version suffered from several problematic bugs, and while there are reports of issues on SAHD (personally, I’ve had absolutely no problems), a fix is already in the works.
A quick look over the website of Studio Evil tells you all you need to know about Syder Arcade HD. “Relevant features: shooting, dying.” The developers have woven in a great sense of humour and an almost excessive amount of love. Fans of the genre should be making it their mission to play this game, which is a steal at 69p on the App Store.