Awesome Saucer is a game that gets right back to what so many of the earliest arcade games were about: blasting the bejeezus out of everything which crosses your path… in space.
But while the premise is simple and back-to-basics enough, the developers at Nebuleux Games give you quite a bit to work with. You begin with two different selectable weapons, and you can unlock more as you progress. Each has its own unique destructive capabilities, from strange lasers, swarming energy blasts, and all manner of science fiction wickedness in between, plus power-up items that further enhance their abilities. These weapons are fired automatically when you line up a target in your sights, though you can also make use of the “fire” button to shoot willy-nilly into the void of space.
Plus, your flying saucer is quite maneuverable: you control the horizontal and the vertical with the left virtual thumbstick, while the right essentially rotates your center of gravity. Or, to put it another way, you can control which way is “down” to your saucer. Throw in buttons for selecting weapons, boosting, braking, and changing your perspective between inside and outside the ship, and you’re set to rocket into the great unknown and blast… the great unknown.
Jumping through hoops.
Indeed, the enemies you’re charged with terminating are even described on the game’s official website as having their “true nature” be unknown. Each foe is basically some sort of light, many of them appearing as different flares and twinkles, and they move along in their own unique patterns trailed by colored or rainbow-like beams. Until you acquire a radar a few levels in, they can be difficult to track when there are many, due to all the twisting and overlapping trails.
Your main goal is to eliminate all of the enemies in a level, which is tracked by a number at the top of the screen. Completing the level with time remaining affords a bonus to your score, but what they don’t tell you is that you must finish all of your enemies off with time remaining, or else you will not be allowed to proceed. Why the round doesn’t simply end when the time expires is anyone’s guess, as it seems pointless to continue once the clock ticks down.
Making all the necessary kills in the time provided can be tricky, too. The left thumbstick feels less responsive when when moving right than when moving left. The problem can be alleviated somewhat by using your left index finger to move the stick, but that results in holding the iPhone in a slightly awkward manner. Fortunately, unless you use the boost, brake, or select buttons a lot, this is largely balanced out by the guns’ autofire.
Does anyone else hear a vacuum?
On the bright side, the earlier stages are fairly easy, allowing you to get the hang of moving your ship and blasting everything around you within the time limit before advancing to more difficult fare. Plus, the time limit increases as you proceed, which also makes blasting every light in sight a little easier.
Unfortunately, around level six, things became a bit more frustrating. Up to that point, it seemed that the enemies were not very interested in our ship; we merely had to hunt them down and terminate them. But at this point, they begin fighting back, and we weren’t even aware they had actually begun attacking until we were dead, and it’s a one-death type of game. Also, the game suffers a little bit of lag on the 3GS model iPhone we used for this review.
All in all, Awesome Saucer offers a fair bit of bang for your buck, but isn’t without a few niggling issues. It’s not quite as “awesome” as the name implies, but blasting away at the passing lights with different types of weaponry proves to be fun and addictive, at least for a little while.