Beauty so rarely comes with brains, but that doesn't stop us from fawning over Miss Universe. Fortunately for Miss Venezuela (again), the intergalactic affairs of Inkvaders need little gray matter. This beautifully drawn alien shooter is vacant, failing to deliver substantive gameplay.
A surprise alien attack on a Martian outpost prompts you to defend humanity in Inkvaders. Beginning with an aggressive run across Mars cleaning up extraterrestial enemies, you fly back home to defeat a cadre of invading aliens. It's all about blasting Earth's egg-headed invaders through 30 levels, wielding a small arsenal of firearms to get the job done.
Each side-scrolling stage is traversed using a set of horizontal directional keys situated in the lower-left corner. A jet pack, which is fired up with a press of a button in the lower-right, propels you over enemies. Additionally, you can launch yourself into the air to pick up valuable meteors good for purchasing weapons upgrades, ammunition, and health packs.
Upgrades are essential given that you start with a piddly pistol and laser gun. A third weapon - a rocket launcher - and high-powered upgrades can be purchased from vending machines. Along with collecting meteors, killing aliens nets you cash: in short, the more aliens you obliterate, the more funds you have for new guns.
This simple system is all that drives Inkvaders forward. The game curiously forgoes a basic element at a devastating loss of appeal: there's no point system. The only reward that comes from defeating aliens is the cash received for upgrades.
Not that earning a score would matter, because there's no leaderboard on which to post results. Such an omission seriously handicaps replay value because there's no motivation to come back and one-up a friend's high score, let alone your own.
Even worse, your progress isn't saved upon exiting the game or dying. This type of design may have been acceptable 20 years ago, but on a portable device where time is a precious commodity Inkvaders isn't to be forgiven for forcing you to start play from the very beginning every time you boot it up. [Correction: An option to resume play does pop up on the main menu if you quit out of the game or are interrupted. We regret the oversight.]
Other issues abound, such as the inability to use the jet pack and fire a gun at the same time. Incorporating the ability to shoot at aliens while jetting around the screen would at least be amusing. Instead, you're forced to stay aground to monotonously fight off random waves of aliens.
Aside from the bizarre inability to fire and jump at the same time, the mechanics are fundamentally good. However, Inkvaders squanders its potential on unimaginative gameplay. Variety is minimal. Through the entire game, you only ever face a handful of aliens and traipse across the same three environments.
Boss battles, aliens weak to specific weapons, vehicles, dips and rises in the terrain - so much more could have been done. Instead, Inkvaders is nothing more than a beautifully styled arcade game as mindless as the aliens whose skulls you hollow out.