The App Store is home to many games that make innovative use of the iPhone’s hardware, but it also provides a platform for older, classic games to receive a new lease of life.
One such example is Chromanoids, which draws its inspiration from Missile Command, yet attempts to update the formula with a few added elements.
What materialises is a fun arcade-shooter that's let down by the game maker's inability to decide on whether Chromanoids is a freemium or paid app.
Life in Technicolor
As predictable as night following day in this genre, you control a space station serving as Earth’s last line of defence against the Chromanoids. These kaleidoscopic invaders are attempting to take over the planet with their multicoloured fleet of ships. Each ship is defeated by launching missiles of the corresponding hue.
To select and fire the different types of missile, you tap once on the desired colour and again to aim the blast.
Initially, red, blue, and yellow ships will threaten the Earth, but eventually mixed coloured ships are introduced, meaning that you will have to make use of your primary school education to remember which colours combine to make green and orange.
You earn points by destroying ships, with bonuses awarded for chaining together perfect shots, long-range efforts, and destroying multiple ships with one blast.
These controls work fairly well for the most part, but problems arise when mixing colours. For example, changing from yellow to red too quickly may inadvertently cause you to release orange blasts, which can have disastrous consequences.
In Story mode, you must survive the waves of Chromanoid ships in order to gain as high a score as possible before you exhaust all your lives. New types of ship and colours are introduced gradually: some craft are faster or move in strange patterns, while others have different coloured shields, meaning two blasts are required to destroy them.
There are four other modes, each of which is a variation of this basic formula.
Armada mode features faster ships, Ultradrive mode sees enemies speed up with each wave, while in Depleted mode blast power decreases as you hit enemies. Red-Shift mode, meanwhile, offers you a chance to practise as all ships are coloured red, removing the need to change colours.
The colourful retro style of Chromanoids is instantly endearing and the feeling of blasting ships to pieces with a pinpoint blast is extremely satisfying, if eventually monotonous.
Insert coin to continue
Unfortunately, it's not all fun and games. You can buy credits via in-app purchases, and you can use these to acquire extra lives and power-ups. Although it's possible to play the game without paying more than the modest initial outlay of 59p, you'll struggle to hit the high scores without forking out.
Chromanoids is a fun arcade experience that tests speed, agility, and accuracy, but Hothead's decision to use a credit-based system will leave a slightly bitter taste for some.