Towaga ($2.99) by Sunnyside Games is a fresh new take on the traditional 2-D arcade shooter game. If you love to test your reflex skills and are itching for a fast-paced game to pass some time with, then Towaga is definitely one that you should check out.
I’ve been going through a bit of stress lately, so the best way for me to take my mind off things is to play video games. While I like to play games on a variety of platforms, the one device that I have with me at all times is my iPhone, of course, so it usually ends up being my primary gaming handheld for the most part. Personally, I enjoy puzzle games the most on iOS, but I find arcade shooter games to be a great stress-reliever too, especially right now. While I’ve played my fair share of arcade shooters on iOS, Towaga caught my eye while browsing the App Store this week, and I had to give it a shot. Needless to say, Towaga is a refreshing new take on the genre that manages to keep things interesting.
Visually speaking, Towaga is downright gorgeous, especially on your Retina screens. The game features a beautifully detailed aesthetic that is both intricate and magical, which fits nicely with the theme of Towaga itself. The various ancient temples that act as the stages are packed with incredible detail that range from the textures and dynamic lighting effects, and Chimù has a distinctive appearance that makes him stand out atop the legendary temples of Towaga. There is also a nice variety of enemies that you will encounter on each level, and even the enemy character models have their own unique appearances and behaviors that you’ll learn the more you play. As I mentioned, the game makes great use of dynamic lighting as you fire off your giant lightbeam from Chimù’s palms, and all of the animations are smooth and fluid. Towaga also has a soothing, atmospheric soundtrack that is rather captivating and engaging, and fits the ancient legendary temple theme rather well. Overall, Sunnyside Games has done a great job with Towaga in terms of visuals and audio, though this should not be too surprising as they did create The Firm, which I was a fan of back in the day.
In Towaga, there is only one game mode, and that is essentially to survive for as long as you can. The game currently has six levels, but only the first stage is available to you from the get-go — the other five must be unlocked by meeting the point threshold of the previous level. Each stage features a different section of the legendary temple of Towaga, and with that brings different enemies that will be out to get you as you perform the exorcism ritual. The objective in each level is to illuminate the dark critters that come at you from all angles and then to exorcise them out of existence, which net you points for your final score.
Controls in Towaga are as simple as they come. Your primary virtual joystick for aiming and shooting Chimù’s lightbeam can be found in the bottom right, and you just move it around to aim and press it to fire. When the beam hits a creature, a ring of runic symbols will light up, and once it’s complete, the creature becomes frozen for a brief period of time, giving you a few seconds to do the same thing to another foe if possible. The more of them you stun at the same time, the more points you’ll earn due to the multiplier. The moment you lift your thumb from the laser stick, those stunned creatures will be exorcised away into nothingness. In the bottom left corner will be another joystick, and this activates your Overbeam, which is a stronger lightbeam that is more spread out and can hit multiple foes at once, weakening and stunning them, but it drains a bit of your life away. You’ll recover some health from exorcised foes, so it’s all about speed, timing, and balance. The Overbeam can’t be used if your health is too low, and when you run out of health on your bar, the round ends and your score gets tallied up.
The game keeps track of your highest score and number of deaths on each stage, in case you want to see your progression throughout the game. Even though the game starts off simple enough, things do get frantic when the quicker foes start flying in, or when the beefier critters start making their way to you in hordes. It does take a bit of practice to master, but once you do, the game is intensely satisfying.
I’m still trying to make my way through the first temple, but so far I’m enjoying Towaga. It’s different from other arcade shooters that I’ve played in the past, but that’s always a welcome change to a tried-and-true genre. On top of the uncommon gameplay, Towaga showcases an exquisite artwork style and the music and sounds are delightful. Controls are simple and intuitive, though it does require some practice to fully master if you want to get the best scores and unlock all stages. I do think that the game gets a bit repetitive in the first stage though, so perhaps lowering the target threshold to unlock the next stage is something the developer should consider. Or at least make it a bit more randomized in terms of enemy encounters.
I still recommend giving Towaga a try if you are looking for a game that sets itself apart from the typical fare. Towaga is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $2.99. There are no in-app purchases.