Apple’s ‘come one, come all’ open development environment for the iPhone is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because it has graced us with several efforts from indie developers that don’t have the backing of a larger publisher. On the flip side, it’s bad when a ton of lackluster games crowd up the App Store. SPIRUS is a shooter than sadly falls into the lackluster category.
It’s easy to recognize that SPIRUS is largely inspired by the classic early 80s coin-op Tempest. You control a ship operating on a circular rail while shooting at aliens that come from several angles. Throughout the game’s 10 levels, you have to clear out a certain number of enemies while avoiding being hit to gain points. Along with shooting aliens and avoiding harmful projectiles, you have to collect ammo to ensure your firepower doesn’t run out. We didn’t find the gameplay satisfying or unique, and the nonsensical controls are a huge reason for that.
Welcome to the suck.
Moving around your ship left and right is done by way of two onscreen buttons, placed on the right side of the screen. Shooting is triggered by a big red button on the left side of the screen. We’re not sure if left-handed gamers were the target demographic, but it breaks standard conventions without any good reason. Movement feels very digital too. There’s no nuance or fine control for moving your ship, and you’ll miss targets and inadvertently crash into aliens frequently. A simulated analog stick would be a much smoother control mechanism for SPIRUS.
On a presentation level, SPIRUS has a very generic look and feel in virtually every respect. Whether it’s the boilerplate storyline, looping rock soundtrack, or the random art direction, there isn’t anything to get excited about here.
With the wide cross-section of good to excellent shooting games available on the App Store, it’s hard to recommend SPIRUS on any level. The gameplay isn’t fun, the controls are awful, and the visual gravitas isn’t there at all.