Cheap Shot: iYamato

Are you sick and tired of fighting as the Allied forces in World War II videogames? Does the thought of spending one more minute fending off Nazi and Japanese soldiers make you want to torch your Band of Brothers DVDs? Well, grab your iPhone or iPod Touch, because the tables have turned in iYamato.

In case you haven’t cracked a history book since high school (and even then, it was only to draw a mustache on Cleopatra), the Yamato was a massive battleship in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. It did what damage it could before sinking in 1945. And that’s exactly what you’ll do in iYamato.

The game is basically Missile Command gone berserk. But instead of a boring silhouetted town, you’re in command of the massive warship, battling against never-ending Allied air strikes. As in other high-score games, your goal is to rack up as many points as possible before you sink. However, unlike other efforts in the genre that start out slowly (we’re looking at you, Flight Control), this one is hectic from the get-go.

You’ve sunk my battleship!

Your ship is equipped with cannons and antiaircraft guns. Each has unlimited ammo, although the cannons take a few seconds to reload. You control the direction of your shots by sliding your thumbs over aiming bars in the bottom corners of the screen.

Instead of a traditional health bar, iYamato visually represents the amount of damage you’ve sustained by having your battleship list and gradually sink. This is, in a word, awesome. It gives you a visceral sense of your status, because the lower your ship sinks, the more tense you feel. If you successfully fend off attacks, your ship uses what can only be samurai magic to right itself.

The graphics are clean and gorgeous. With three modes of difficulty and online leaderboards for each, you’ll know how you stack up against other players in your country and the world.

Sure, we would appreciate a few more guns or power ups. The developer, Geppetto Inc., promises more content in future updates. But even as is, iYamato stays afloat against the best casual games on the platform. So gear up, soldier, and fight for the other side.

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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