It’s been the norm for action games on the iPhone or iPad to borrow heavily from other games, especially old-school classics. In the case of Gunner Galaxies, the initial inspiration comes from Atari’s Asteroids. The change-up, however, is that the player is completely stationary. The gunner in question is stuck inside a shielded gun turret, taking aim at every asteroid that floats by him.
Gunner Galaxies is a simple game. You sit and spin, while blowing up an ever-increasing number of space rocks. Big rocks explode into a shower of smaller rocks, which then turn into smaller rocks, until you manage to grind all the remains into space dust. Exploding rocks frequently release power ups as well.
The game offers a host of power ups to collect. Shooting these icons temporarily provides more powerful guns, rapid fire, slowed time, shields, grenades, destructive clouds, and other goodies. In a particularly creative bent, there are negative power ups as well. Shoot these and you’ll be hampered with things like drunken aiming, shrunken size, and weaker shots.
There are several different game modes that alter the gameplay slightly from the classic mode. In the bouncy castle mode, for instance, asteroids bounce off the side of the screen instead of disappearing past the border. Time flux alternates between time speeding up and slowing down, while the elemental galaxy mode adds themes of fire and ice to the mix. Unfortunately, the latter two modes are only unlocked with “galactic” credits, which must be purchased with real money.
The triple threat.
You can also buy power ups, power up slots, and a variety of other enhancements. Thankfully, these cost crystals, which you collect while playing. Gunner Galaxies is a free download, and even if you never spend a dime, there’s still a ton of rock-blasting action.
The controls use a virtual directional pad where you simply slide your thumb in a circle one way or the other to aim your turret in 360 degrees. Holding down the fire button gives you a constant rate of fire. While it’s slightly disappointing that the game doesn’t have a more creative, touch-centric control scheme, the controls are responsive and easy to use.
GameCenter support and achievements should appeal to social-minded gamers. There’s no multiplayer, but the game does include a social-network feature called the “squadron” mode. Here, you link friends to your squadron and everyone in the same squadron earns extra bonus points.
If the general gameplay interests you, there’s really only one glaring problem with Gunner Galaxies: The gameplay simply doesn’t vary much. The aim of the game is just to blow away rocks in space, and while Gunner Galaxies definitely gets more challenging, it never really gets more complex. Just the same, Gunner Galaxies is a fun distraction and the price is certainly right.