Square Enix’s Upcoming Games Hands-On Preview Part 1

Square Enix is going all out for mobile in a huge way at this year’s E3. They had no less than 10 iOS games on hand for us to try, and not a single one was from the Chaos Rings series. Read on for our impressions of the first five, all of which will be available in June or July. Be sure to read part two here.

Darius Burst: Second Prologue

This side-scrolling space shooter reminded us of the R-Type and Gradius series. Flight controls are handled by touching the screen, and you can tap buttons to activate auto-fire and a screen-clearing electric “burst” move. You’ll also have to pick up colored orbs to build up additional special moves. The 3D graphics are excellent, and the first level ended with a fight against a giant battleship shaped like a sea monster, so we think this shooter is turning out nicely. Update: Dariusburst has actually been out for several months on the App Store. Our apologies for the error.

Raystorm

A vertical space shooter, Raystorm is actually a port of the 1996 arcade game. Through touschscreen controls, you’ll blast away at Gundam or Transformers-like giant flying robots. We should note that our demo was with an iPhone-only version, so we’re not sure if there will be a universal or iPad-only version as well.

American Mensa Academy

This one is a trivia/ brain-building game with an official license from the smartypants society. Some of the minigames included unscrambling anagrams, putting words in alphabetical order, and guessing whether a tortoise or hare will cross the finish line first based on their early trajectories. The cutesy presentation makes this more than just a dull puzzle collection.

Demon’s Score

Demon’s Score is a fascinating take on the music rhythm genre. It’s equal parts Elite Beat Agents, Guitar Hero, and Bayonetta in a lot of ways. This game is unequivocally and unapologetically Japanese. You select a music track, and you’ll be taken through a crazy trip where you’re shooting all kinds of ghastly demons and creatures. Mis-time your taps, and your heroine will collect damage. There appeared to be some type of leveling system inherent in the game, but Square Enix was mum on detailing the extent of the feature. Running on the Unreal Engine 3, Demon’s Score is a great looking game. With these graphics and the promise of a full blown story, we are anxious to get our hands on the finished product.

Sola Rola

We last played this game ages ago for feature phones, but now it’s been fully redesigned for iOS. You play as Wiz and Waz, two mischevious blobs who are trying to power their spaceship. You have to tilt the screen to roll, plus trigger bombs and ride platforms over lava to reach each level exit.