This affordable action shooter has a familiar Nintendo DS game setup. Target visuals on the top screen, control your movement (in various shapes) and actions on the bottom, then blend. Sounds like fun, and thankfully it is fun as developers Arkedo and SouthPeak execute this formula well. The great format and incredible use of the Nintendo DS functions will blow your mind throughout approximately 90 levels of firework-filled fun.
Once you destroy baddies on the top with quick upward strokes with the stylus and other advanced movements, they turn into falling stars that you catch on the bottom for scores and/or to advance. Be careful though; the challenging catch is that debris created from your shots also fall, so you have to find a balance of shooting and moving, which also changes throughout the dynamic challenges. It can be frustrating to die while trying to switch between shooting and moving, but you must — you know what's coming — practice. This game has flexible buffer zones, but just use caution when your life is low.
A single break of concentration can spell doom, but also produces great excitement. You can easily get tense excitement when making circles in a specific area to attract enemy fire. Coordination is key. Once you find the right technique for the basics, progress to expanded controls and power ups like pressing the L or R button (great for lefties or righties) while flicking the touch screen up for guided missiles (weaker than your normal shots) that destroy the main targets.
Permanent power-ups help while others are only used in certain levels — just be sure to check their availability by viewing the battery charger status icon on the bottom left. Other specialties (see tutorial text at the beginning of each stage) include time stoppers (backward strokes), shields (horizontal) and a fireball (hold still…very challenging in explosive environments).
Slow moving goop, clouds and other obstacles assist the bosses and their minions in slowing your progress. Still, you have unlimited ammunition, so you always have a good chance to get out of seemingly impossible situations. Pay attention to the mechanic explanations. In the arctic Aurora level, you can “curve the bullet” to get past blocking objects to reach your target because the wind curves the trajectory of your shots.
The arcade mode levels (listed in order) include appealing animated settings in Hong Kong, Aurora, Kamakura, Luxor, Savannah, New York, Rio De Janeiro, Paris and, finally, the Abyss. Each level has 10 stages with a boss stage at the end. Each stage features a special bonus zone, which, if you complete them all successfully, unlocks the relax mode. Beat the Luxor boss to unlock the challenge mode which keeps scores.