Helion is a space shooter with one of the strangest ship designs we’ve ever seen. Instead of a sleek, interstellar jet, you control a mini-sun that shoots out a solar flare to immediately toast your enemies. Unfortunately, because of the game’s incredibly awkward, screen-blocking controls, our enjoyment flamed out just as quickly.
Let us briefly take you through the experience of playing this game. Your right thumb stays on the pulsing sun-ship constantly, and pressing anywhere else on the screen fires your flares. This means you have to keep two fingers on the screen at any given time to shoot back at the bad guys. If you ever need to move your ship to the left, you are now blocking most of the screen with your hand. If you ever take your thumb off the ship, you’ll stop firing.
Here comes the sun.
Moving and firing obscures your view of the action, which is incredibly annoying. Helion is clearly designed to appeal to a hardcore shooter crowd, as well’” you have to evade lots of tricky “bullet hell” situations, like a recurring porcupine enemy that fills the screen with tiny projectiles, or enemies that will rush you and explode on impact. Not being able to see what’s happening is a death sentence.
Other oversights add to the annoyance. You can’t pause the game at all, so if you need a break, you have to let yourself die or just exit the game entirely. This is an easy thing to fix, and we’d expect an update immediately.
Look out, it’s the international death station!
Also irritating to shooter fans is the fact that you don’t earn extra lives or powerups by defeating enemies and racking up a high score’” they just appear at certain points in the action, regardless of what you do. As a result, you can potentially avoid most of the enemies, and there is no reward for becoming a blazing death-dealer.
It’s too bad, because the graphics are nice and the challenge level (excluding the control gripes) is quite high. With at least one big fix (let us take our thumbs off the ship to keep shooting!) Helion could be an enjoyable shooter. Right now, though, you should probably save your money, because Helion is just not worth the headache.