Should you think 2D shooters has been executed in every possible way, Engineous Games wants you to think again. Sketch Nation Shooter isn’t about having you play a predetermined set of levels created by the developers. Sure, that element is there, but the crux of this experience is based on providing users the playground to deliver their own visions and sharing them with the world.
You’d have to look to console games like Little Big Planet or ModNation Racers to grasp the ambition of Sketch Nation Shooter. But unlike those games, the creation tools here aren’t nearly as complicated to use. Depending on how in-depth you’d want to get, Sketch Nation Shooter allows you to import intro graphics, level layouts, and assets for characters and enemies. Using the iPhone’s camera, you can take a snapshot of an image you’ve drawn and, within seconds, it can become a real asset in your game.
After you’ve sorted out the assets to be used in your game, the next step is to flesh out the level design. That includes everything from enemy patterns, power-up drops, background music, boss music, and other options to fine-tune the experience. From the creation menus, testing out your level is quick with lightning fast loading times.
Actual gameplay is familiar and solid, in a very good way. Dragging your thumb around on the screen moves your flying ‘insert noun here’ around and shooting is automagically handled by the game. Hitting power-up icons upgrades your firepower to include spray shooting and sporadic missile launches.
Unlike other shooters that can end from catching a random stray bullet, Sketch Nation Shooter provides you with three lives and a life meter for each of them. Though this is an early build, some of the developer-made levels were a little too crazy and unforgiving for our taste. Hopefully they get tuned before the game’s release.
One aspect that we weren’t able to dig into was the social networking offering. Our preview build didn’t have any of the online features enabled, but we’re excited by what’s on tap. When this game hits your hands, you’ll have tools to upload levels, download levels, and rate the experiences you have.
Assuming enough people use the development tools here, this could be a game that keeps on giving. Our only concern is the noise and obscenity factor that comes into play with user-generated content, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the potential of the online offering delivers.
Sketch Nation Shooter is projected to launch at the end of March. As usual, we’ll have a full review when this potentially revolutionary shooter hits the market.