How many webcomics actually have a readership large enough to justify a game on the App Store? The webcomic Bee must be popular, because it can now claim the game Gremlin Empire as part of its universe. Unfortunately, the little character this game has is quickly eclipsed by its technical flaws and undeveloped gameplay.
Gremlin Empire is an arcade shooter where you play as the protagonist of the webcomic Bee in a never-ending fight against gremlins of a scant few shapes and sizes.
You control Bee and her weapon with the two radial controls we iDevice players have come to know so well from games like iDracula. The game is set in a rectangular gray field, with mine carts and tracks leading off in a few directions. Unfortunately, you cannot follow any of these tracks, as you are confined to this small area.
Aw, the big guy just wants to play rock-paper-scissors!
It’s not too boring there, however, as an endless swarm of gremlins attack you at all times, leaving you to run around in circles, shooting madly.
Gremlin Empire has only three types of gremlins to fight: There is the piker, in both wimpy and enraged versions. This is followed by the Bloomer, a big gremlin that needs a few more bullets to take down. Finally, there is the Sapper, a gremlin petard.
Of course, unless you read the comic or the app description, you’ll only know these units by the obscene names you come up for them as you’re playing, as there is no introduction to them in-game.
The gremlins themselves do have some character, like entertaining animations and reactions to bullets, but the graphics don’t seem to do the originals in the comic any justice at all. Add to that the fact that their endless supply makes them crowded and difficult to discern from others, and the concept art is lost.
But art appreciation isn’t really on the agenda, and that’s not all that’s missing from this game. Gremlin Empire contains no ammo, no health packs, no levels, and (worst of all) no leaderboards of any kind. Bee simply runs around until she loses all of her health. Even the cool retro arcade music doesn’t make up for these glaring flaws.
The app description of Gremlin Empire promises new enemies, updates, and maps in future versions to come, but this just leaves us wondering why they didn’t keep this game in development until those were completed. In its current state, Gremlin Empire is a game that is not really worth your time or money, even if you like the comic.