The side-scrolling platform-shooter is an under represented genre on the App Store. There are a few examples, but they're mainly ports of older arcade games. While they're entertaining enough, most of them are more than a decade old.
Enter Ravenous Games, creator of the hugely enjoyable League of Evil series, and its latest pixel-art concoction Random Heroes. It's a brilliant blast influenced by the past, freshened up with bite-sized levels and smart design, and overflowing with enemies, bullets, and coins.
You play as a lone hero, armed at the start with just a pistol and your wits. There's been a robotic zombie invasion, and it's up to you to put an end to it the only way you know how: by jumping and shooting.
The controls are simple and work remarkably well. Arrows in one corner of the screen move you left and right, and buttons in the other corner let you jump and fire whatever weapon you have equipped.
Dead enemies explode in a shower of coins, which you'll need to grab in order to buy new guns and stat-altering costumes. Equipment isn't cheap, though, so if you find yourself stuck and out of coins you can spend some real-life cash to boost your coffers.
Coins, coins, coins
It's rare that a level will take you more than a couple of minutes to run through, but you're not constantly graded and appraised after each performance, instead moving straight into the next part of your bloody rampage.
Enemies are relentless, and your life gauge is minuscule to begin with. A single touch will deplete a portion of your health, so learning to leap over creatures when they're moving towards you is as important as having a speedy trigger finger.
Random Heroes is a celebration of the 16-bit era, when almost every platformer gave you a gun and some identikit bad guys to shoot. While it's tough, when you die you keep the coins you've collected, meaning a failed run is never a waste of time.
There's a mass of content, too, and while the palette is a little too brown, and there are a few hideously jagged difficulty spikes, Random Heroes is a brilliant game. This is a worthy leader of the platform-shooter revival.