Oh snap. Just what none of us needed. A fun, fast-paced old-style Western shoot-em-up on our iPhones. Graphic eye-candy and high quality audio combine to make this first person six-shooter a “bang” for all ages.
If you can tap, you can shoot. That may not be true for Dancing with the Stars, but it’s a comforting reality when you’re surrounded and the cowchips are flying in Billy Frontier.
You have several game options to choose from including target practice, stampede and of course, what you came for, shootouts and duels.
A stampede option has poor Billy trying to outrun a herd of angry bovine, and you’ve got to help him by titling your iPhone back and forth to skirt obstacles and by tapping the screen to jump.
Target practice lets you take aim at whiskey bottles, kegs of dynamite and bad guys as they soar up into view of your iPhone screen. It’s rather ingenious, because the screen doesn’t stay stationary – it has a drift effect, which makes target practice more fun. In fact, whereas in most games, you’d do this once just to get the hang of things, you may find yourself coming back here for fun. It’s a must first-stop for rookies.
Shootouts have you marching through town with your spurs on, targeting and eliminating bad guys hiding around corners, boxes and barrels. There are more ammo and treasure hidden in them-thar boxes and kegs, so watch your ammo level but keep shooting to get the gold.
Duels allow you to face off with not just one, but two different opponents eager to lay you to rest in Boot Hill. I’m still working on this feature. It’s tough, and poor Billy has met his Maker more times than is fair because of slow draw and nervous tap.
Overall, gameplay is fluid, fun, and pretty dynamic. I encountered one crash while trying to do the swamp stampede, but these days, it’s tough to tell what’s at fault – the app or the firmware. You’ll get confused if you’re like me by the aiming reticule, or crosshairs. I kept trying to place them over my target and then tap, only to watch in disgust as my tap caused the crosshairs to jump. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the crosshairs to stay on target to shoot.
Then I read the handy-dandy tutorial on the Pangea site. Should have started there first:
When you tap the screen to shoot, the reticle will be placed just above where you tapped instead of directly under it. This way you can see what you’re shooting at without your finger obscuring it. Turning this off will make the bullets shoot from the exact point that you tap. (Italics mine)
With this knowledge in hand, I took on the bad guys again in shootout levels, and they were shocked at my quick improvement. I believe they screamed, “Run for the hills!” but I didn’t let them. I dispatched them with lead and coolly blew the smoke off my iPhone.
I had a blast playing Billy Frontier and can’t wait to show my kids – that is, if they can pry my cold dead hands off my smoking iPhone. It’s a well-written, visual feast that will, unfortunately, become addicting. It’s a pleasant surprise to find a game like Billy Frontier for $5.99. It’s well worth the investment. Fire it up when you’re around friends, and it may just sell Apple its 9,000,000th iPhone.
With the different game options to choose from and levels that are appropriate for first-timers and sheriffs alike, it will be a game you’ll be saying “shore is fun.”