Paradise: The Beginning, from Bone Gravy Games, is a solid recreation of the dual-stick shooter genre on the iPhone. Like many other 99 cent games, Paradise doesn’t have much in the way of content, and seems half-finished in some ways–but what little it does have is definitely worth a buck.
You play the game from a top-down perspective, tooling around the streets and alleyways of a ruined city in a dune buggy-like contraption. Your left thumb gets a D-pad that controls your direction, while your right thumb dictates the direction you’re firing. This is the classic Robotron 2084 and Smash TV gameplay setup, and it works well on iDevices, because you don’t need to make precision button presses–you can just smear your thumbs around on the screen to move and shoot. Your car is nimble, too, allowing you to run circles around many of your opponents while laying down a withering stream of fire.
The baddies come out of the woodwork from every direction; big waves of red will pop up on your radar, and then the game is afoot. The easy guys make a beeline straight for you and try to crash into you, but other enemies are more sophisticated. For instance, one type belches flames at you from a longer range than your default weapon can reach, and another jumps around laying mines. To survive, you have to be evasive and use the terrain to your advantage in a sort of guerrilla warfare. Very occasionally, power-ups will appear at the center of the level to refill your health, grant you a shield for a short period of time, or add a weapon to your repetoire. It’s not nearly often enough, though, and when you die, you have to start over from the beginning. It might be a good idea for the developers to award bonus lives at various score thresholds to keep the action going.
Paradise looks really good for a budget game. There’s only a single level, but it’s expansive, well-designed, and painted by hand, so there are details like burnt-out cars in the parking lots. More importantly, the action is very smooth; slowdown was never an issue for us at all.
You can do a heck of a lot worse on the App Store than spending 99 cents on Paradise: The Beginning. The basic gameplay is right where it needs to be, so if the developers keep adding new features, levels, enemies and weapons to the mix, we could easily see this turning into one of the better action games around.