Ziggurat Review

‘Endless’ games have been a curious phenomena for the iPhone. While not specifically calling themselves retro type games, these apps seem to harken back to the early days of the arcades, when games were deceptively simple in their concepts (essentially doing the same thing over and over, with no end in sight), but surprisingly complex in their execution. Ziggurat is a game that wholeheartedly embraces this retro badge, and does it with aplomb.

You play as the last human on earth, standing atop a gigantic pyramid, armed only with a laser-rifle. As you stand there, waves of enemy aliens bounce up toward you. You aim your rifle by sliding your finger across the screen. Holding your finger down charges your gun to make a more powerful shot. If an alien reaches you, it’s game over. That’s it. That’s the whole game.

So popular.

But just randomly shooting like a maniac will get you killed. As the aliens hop up towards you their eyes and heads grow and shrink. Hitting the aliens when their heads are fully pulsated with a fully charged shot will result in massive explosions that can cause chain-reactions, killing scores of enemies.

However, waiting for the right conditions can take time, and time is short. So you’re constantly trying to decide whether or not to use a fully charged, or partially charged shot, and whether to wait for the aliens’ heads to fully inflate or not. Which group of aliens do you concentrate on, the ones to your left or right? Or do you single out the one gigantic alien stomping it’s way to crush you? There’s a lot of split-second decision making going on here, and you’ll have a nail-bitingly fun time doing it.

King of the hill.

You will die, and you will die a lot. This is an insanely tough game. The developers claim there is nine hours of content in the game, but if you can make it past five minutes, then consider yourself a superstar. You will come back, though, because this game really gets its hooks into you.

There are two different control methods offered here. The default one, described above, is called ‘precision’ mode. It takes some time to get used to, but once you do you’ll exhale a big sigh of relief after you’ve managed to cause a massive explosion that takes out tons of enemies at once. The second option, ‘slingshot’ mode, controls sort of like Angry Birds, with you effectively flinging your bullets at the enemies. It’s best to avoid this one as we found it to be virtually impossible to use with this game.

Despite the difficult-to-master controls, you’ll still probably find yourself wanting to come back for more after you’ve died. Ziggurat is horribly addictive, and you’ll want to keep trying for an ever higher score. Throw in some awesome chiptune sounds, well drawn NES style graphics, and Ziggurat is a real charmer. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re a glutton for punishment then this a game for you.

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