There's a part of me that will always love the chaos of the arcade shooters of the '90s.
I grew up dropping coins into battered machines at fading seaside arcades full of broken lightbulbs and scowling, nicotine-stained attendants.
And that manic, just-one-more-go gameplay is front and centre in Operation Dracula. It sits at just the right side of the madness spectrum, not quite pushing into bullet hell trickery but skirting it with grace and style.
The thick-edged 16-bit graphics are a fluid and expressive joy to behold, the challenge is sharp but welcoming, and the explosive action will have you perching on the edge whichever seat you find yourself playing on.Blood for the blood God
The game is a top down shmup with a story about vampires trying to take over the world. But that's not really important. What's important is the swirling pool of violence it drops you into almost immediately.
The controls are simple. You move a finger around the screen to move your super-powered fighter. A double tap on the screen unleashes your special power and a tap on the bottom right sets off a bomb.
Bombs and special powers charge up as you fight, and your main weapon powers up too. You'll lose power if you take a hit though. And you probably will take a lot of hits, because this is a decidedly tough game.
There are three characters to choose from to start with, each with their own unique set of moves. The spread and power of their weapons vary, as do their special moves.
One unleashes a stream of fire, another surrounds her ship with a spinning ball of energy. The third spews out a glowing plasma bird.
Learning the patterns is key to success here, weaving through mazes of bullets and missiles and reacting to the tics of the enormous bosses. And the whole time you'll have a smile on your face.
Shoot it up
There's something genuinely thrilling about the giant robots, multi-legged tanks, and towering mechs that you come up against. It's a familiar setting painted in the comforting bright hues of a bygone era.
But more than that Operation Dracula is a brash and bold shooter. Its levels rattle past with precision, it wears its heart on its sleeve, and it bursts with frenetic violence at all the right times.
This is the sort of game that would have been surrounded in those seaside arcades, and it deserves to be played just as much on mobile.