Game Reviews

SolarQuest

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SolarQuest
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| SolarQuest

SolarQuest's space theme and horizontal-scrolling levels will make any shoot-'em-up fan feel instantly at home. Well, at least until they realise there's no actual shooting in it. That doesn't stop it, however, from being an enjoyable game.

Originally starting life as a Java game for Motorola's venerable i85 phone, SolarQuest places you in control of a ship through ten levels, avoiding obstacles while collecting shield and extra-life power-ups.

You fly by tilting the iPhone forwards and backwards to float up and down, while tapping an onscreen button to fire your afterburners to move forwards. The more you use them, the more points you score for each level.

The game looks marvellous, with beautiful backgrounds and bright, well-defined sprites (do we still call them sprites in this day and age?). The visuals are certainly a big selling point, anyway.

The ship handles well, too, responding tightly to your tilting movements, so you'll be dodging and ducking obstacles within seconds of firing the game up. A map at the top of the screen gives you a handy preview of what obstacles are coming up, and proves to be genuinely useful.

The gameplay is fairly varied, with different obstacles testing your thinking and reflexes. And once you reach the end, you can submit your high score to NeonSurge's online rankings to see how you compare.

That said, the game is very short. There are ten levels, and buzzing through them will take you 20 minutes tops, unless you're really bad at guiding your ship. Then again, it only costs £1.79/$2.99, so the developer might argue that you're getting good value for money. And two of those ten levels were added in the game's last update, so there may be more to come.

As it stands, SolarQuest is great fun while it lasts, but leaves you wanting more, even if you don't feel actually ripped off thanks to the price point.

And while it might be harsh to criticise it for the lack of bullets, we'd love to see NeonQuest develop this game engine into a fully-fledged shoot-'em-up. Piloting the ship feels so natural, it's the logical next step.

In short, more levels, lots of enemies, and the ability to blast them into smithereens, please. If SolarQuest does well on the App Store, perhaps our wish will come true. For now, it's more of a fun and great-looking diversion, but a diversion nonetheless.

SolarQuest

Great fun and looks lovely, but we'd happily pay extra for more of it
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