Space Cycler ($1.99) by Sung Liwen is a retro tunnel space shooter arcade game that's as challenging as it is fun. If you enjoyed games like Danmaku Unlimited 3 and AKA TO BLUE, but wish for some classic Tempest shooting action, then Space Cycler is perfect.
When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time playing computer games while I was hanging around my siblings' PCs. I ended up playing whatever games were on them at the time, which usually involved Solitaire, Classic Pinball, Asteroids, or Tempest. I loved arcade games back then, and I enjoy them even more now. It's hard for me to find good space shooters on the App Store, let alone a tunnel-style one that's reminiscent of Tempest. So when I was perusing the App Store for some new entertainment, I stumbled on Space Cycler, and am glad I found it.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, Space Cycler has a lot going on for it. The game is rendered in 3D with a quirky and cute cartoonish art style that makes me think of Saturday morning cartoons when I was younger. The space backdrops are what you'd expect from this kind of game, and the textures are nice. Enemies and bosses are pretty detailed and all of them have their own unique appearances and behavior patterns, while your ships have distinctive aesthetics based on the primary weapon type. There's a lot of fun and exciting explosions to witness, and it's easy to spot the incoming enemy bullets and attacks, which tells you when you need to move to dodge them.
Space Cycler is full of bright and vibrant colors, and the animation is smooth and fluid with no lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The upbeat music is quirky and charming, fitting with the rest of the game's eccentric nature. The sounds are also fun and fit the typical space ship noises that you'd expect from cartoons.
You can play Space Cycler solo or with a friend in the local co-op mode, so one device is between two people. There are five planets to fly and fight your way through, but you unlock them in chronological order. So to get to the second planet, you must clear out the first one, and so forth. Each planet counts as the main stage, but there are multiple waves for all of the planets, including challenging boss fights. Once you unlock a world, you can start new games from there, rather than starting from the first world. However, your score won't be as high this way, so keep that in mind.
There are three space ships that you can choose from in Space Cycler, though only the first one, Bullet, is available at first. To unlock the other two styles, you must reach a certain point threshold. Each ship has a different primary weapon type and unique ultimate attack. You earn points by defeating enemies, as well as collecting the stars that they leave behind. The more you get, the better. Fallen foes can also leave power-ups behind, which you want to collect to upgrade your weapon, giving it more firepower.
Controls in Space Cycler are simple and allow for one-handed play. A slider towards the bottom of the screen lets you move your ship clockwise or counterclockwise on the screen, with the enemies coming in from the middle of the circle. When you move, your ship automatically shoots its primary weapon, so you don't need to worry about a separate attack button.
For the most part, the sensitivity on the slider should be decent enough for most people. However, I wish that there was an option to adjust sensitivity, since you can either move too fast or too slow during more intense fights, like with bosses. I felt that sometimes my ship moved too slowly, or I zoomed across the circle and end up hitting something else I didn't notice. Perhaps I just need more practice, but I feel like adjusting the sensitivity would help out most people.
The co-op mode is a neat feature, as it lets two people play on a single device. This is probably better on an iPad than an iPhone, but it works on both. The second player can just tap to jump in, choose their ship, and then you're both off. You can save your partner from the verge of death, but watch out! It's entirely possible to collide on the battlefield, so you need to be careful and coordinate with each other appropriately to defeat the enemies.
Space Cycler is highly entertaining with fun graphics and challenging on-rails tunnel shooting gameplay, and there is an awesome local co-op mode.
Space Cycler is a lot of fun and has plenty of replay value. The game is full of vibrant, eye-catching visuals and the music is well done. While five worlds doesn't seem like enough at first glance, when you consider the fact that each area is broken up into several challenging waves of enemies, it's actually a lot of content for the price. Plus, the game gets progressively more difficult, so it does take time to master and beat them all.
On top of it all, Space Cycler's co-op mode is a delightful surprise that works, and is perfect for those who enjoy local co-op with friends.
For what it's worth, Space Cycler is a hidden gem on the App Store with a lot of good things going for it. However, again, I would like to see options for control sensitivity, as it would help with better reactions to enemy behaviors and attacks. Hopefully the developers can consider this in the future.
Space Cycler is not a new game, but it was recently released and a nice surprise for me on the App Store. I love distinctive graphics that separate games from the rest of the pack, and Space Cycler has that. The music and sound are fun too, and the intuitive controls work well for one-handed play. The stages are challenging, and I can definitely see myself playing this for a while, especially with the co-op.
Space Cycler is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for $1.99. There are no in-app purchases.