International law tells us that randomly dropping bombs on people is A. Bad. Thing. Game developers, however, continue to encourage us that given the chance, it can actually be a whole lot of fun.
Cobra Mobile's iBomber (previously the jovially named Bombs Away before trademark concerns got in the way) is certainly up for plenty of random bombage. Just keep hitting the big, red Bombs Away button like one of Pavlov's dogs with the taste of sausage in its nostrils, it claims, and life will be sweet.
At least the setting of the game - the Pacific seascapes of WWII - is reasonably neutral for App Store's mainly European and North American audience. It's not going live on the Japanese server any time soon though.
And, as an cartoon-styled arcade game, there's nothing remotely historically accurate about the missions. You're dropping ordinance on battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, gun turrets, airfields, oil tanks, hidden bases etc. Basically anything that's not sea or rock.
Viewed from a topdown perspective, you aim using the large crosshair sight, which you move around by tilting your iPhone or iPod touch left and right. You can speed up and slow down by tilting forward and back.
As you make your way over enemy territory, you're continually being shot at by ground forces; something displayed by big black smoke clouds and sparks of tracer fire. These will eventually knock down your health meter to zero and see you crash down to earth in a giddy death spiral.
But successfully dropping bombs on your targets - you'll have to fulfil a certain number of objectives, say destroy all aircraft carriers and 5 out of 7 command huts, to complete each mission - will result in power-ups.
The most useful of these are the health packs, which keep you airborne longer, but there are also three types of bomb; the triple cluster Blockbuster bomb, the fast-falling Rocket bomb, and the huge Grand Slam. Each of these has different dropping characteristics but to be honest, your infinite load of generic bombs is more than good enough to get the job done.
Yet, while iBomber can be treated as a fairly throwaway experience, it has depth too.
Of course, when you're starting out, the easiest way to play is to fly steadily in a straight line towards any target - especially if the target is linear, such as an airfield, bridge or ship - and keep bashing that big red Bombs Away button until you get a random hit. After a hour or so though, you can start using skill in terms of judging exactly when to drop your load. This especially works with the Rocket bomb because it falls in a fraction of a second.
The various mission types force you to act in different ways too. In a couple you have to protect your ships from the enemy fleet or stop the enemy destroying your coastal batteries, which increases the frantic nature of the action as these are effectively timed stages.
The overall design also encourages a certain amount of replayability as you can complete most of the 12 missions fairly easily but you’re provided with medals for destroying more than 90 per cent of enemy buildings/artillery, and ships, plus another medal for 90 per cent bombing accuracy. These are much harder to earn.
And more than this, there's a certain level of addictive Zen attitude that arises from the simple combination of blowing things up, the high quality of the graphics and sound effects, and the smooth control method. The soundtrack, which sounds like it could have been lifted from The Great Escape, may have you reaching for the volume controls after about 10 minutes though.
Despite this, iBomber isn't without issues. Perhaps most annoying is that each level is set on a rather small rectangular map. This means that you'll often fly into the edges and have to turn around. It's hard to think how the developers could have got around this; perhaps an automatic 180 degree turn would work? Regularly hitting the edges does spoilt the flow of the game however.
Nevertheless, iBomber remains a big, explosive burst of fun. So go on. Drop a bomb.
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