Cheap Shot: Alien Holiday

For all its visual spit-shine and polish, the side-scrolling shooter Alien Holiday ought to be an out of this world experience. Like Icarus with his splendid wings, it should soar high above the labyrinth of mediocre App Store games. And it might have… except that, like Icarus, it plummets to earth because of one fatal flaw.

The game tells the tale of an alien who vacations on Earth and decides it might be fun to exterminate humanity. The cartoony graphics are a perfect match for the goofy plot, and the retro sci-fi sound effects hit the right notes. The game boasts impressive boss battles and options aplenty to upgrade your ship. So far, so good.

Vacation, all I ever wanted.

However, the game-breaking flaw at Alien Holiday’s heart is the control scheme. You use tilt controls to steer the ship, but the sensitivity is set so low that you have to tilt your iDevice uncomfortably far before the ship will respond. It makes the gameplay as bad as an episode of ALF. And, maddeningly, there’s no way to adjust the sensitivity.

The game is also host to some smaller flaws, like the lack of a pause button, and jazz-pop fusion music that wears out its welcome faster than a laser beam to the eardrums. Alien Holiday shows a world of potential, but until developer Too Many Studios at least upgrades the control scheme, we recommend you sit this one out.

Editor’s Note: Cheap Shot is a new review feature where we pick a game that costs $.99 or $1.99 and give it the quick review treatment. While you won’t find a 1-4 score or our usual pros and cons, you will get a direct assessment of the game based on a one-hour playthrough. You’ll still find our full-length, regular reviews for other games.

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