As delightfully old fashioned as the idea of a bipedal frog trashing anything that moves with a laser gun may be, KeroBlaster still manages to feel fresher and more exciting than much of the content on the App Store.
It's an homage to side-scrolling shooters of the past, dripping with retro charm and razor-sharp gameplay that punishes the slightest slip by ripping up one of your health-showing hearts.
There are boss fights and simple puzzles, chases and strange sections where a disgruntled librarian throws books at your head.
And it's all put together with a precision and a poise that makes every leap and re-aim feel smooth. It might crackle with 8-bit references, but this is a game that's as slick and modern as they come.
You play as a frog with a destructive arsenal who's tasked with clearing the shadowy monsters out of your company's teleportation array.
This involves blasting your way through a series of themed levels, killing anything that moves, and upgrading your weaponry and health bar with the coins you nab from dead foes and slaughtered scenery.
A strip of the screen along the bottom is dedicated to the controls. Two buttons move you left and right, and another lets you leap into the air.
Your laser blasts and bubble bursts are controlled with a three-way slider. If it's in the middle you're not firing. Slide it left, right, or up and you'll hurl out a steady stream of violence in that direction.
It might sound like a fiddly system but it actually works surprisingly well. Once you get used to it you'll be twirling around the levels, jumping one way and firing another.
Those levels are cut up into reasonably manageable chunks. You get a set number of lives to try and finish each of them, and if you die you'll be dropped back to the last checkpoint you passed.
Run out of lives and you'll wake up in a hospital, watched over by your cigar-smoking feline partner.
Retrying from here starts you back at the beginning of a zone with your lives topped up and the bosses you killed and puzzles you solved already finished.
The shooting relies on rhythm and reaction. Most enemies blurt out some form of projectile the first time you shoot them, so you need to be ready with the 'jump' button as soon as you let rip with your laser.
There are turrets, bomb-tossing moles, spiky plants, glowing spheres, enormous electricity spewing fish, and swooping birds for you to destroy, and all of them are capable of biting chunks out of your health bar.
You can upgrade your weapons and add extra hearts to your health at a shop that appears somewhere on every level. Cash is a little tough to come by, but you can save up for the bigger upgrades.
Different weapons suit different situations, and deciding whether to use your short range beam, long range laser, or weird bubble gun, is all part of the shooting puzzle the game presents you with.
KeroBlaster is a tough game, make no mistake, but it's within the digits of anyone to get to the end of its chunk of levels. And there's a decent sense of achievement when you do.
This is retro-sloshed shooting at its finest, a balanced and intelligent platforming action game that slips on rose-tinted spectacles and lets you relive the golden age of the 2D side-scroller from the comfort of your iPhone.
KeroBlaster is a rewarding, hugely enjoyable experience that manages to be pretty darn hard, while still making sure you've got a smile on your face every time you play it.
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