If I asked you what Spectrum Shock was, you may be mistaken in thinking it was an unheard of spiritual successor to System Shock, or maybe a bad TV show about a guy who can manipulate electromagnetism, or maybe even a movie with Alan Rickman. In fact, it is the debut game from Boxfrog Games featuring all the tilting and tapping you can fit into a device rife for tilting and tapping.
So how does it shape up to the other titles on the app store? Is it a Canabalt or a Can Of Ba… Okay, even I’m not crass enough to finish that pun. Hit the jump to find out why Spectrum Shock should be the next game you download to your iPhone.
A worrying trend in the indie game development community at present, fuelled heavily by the runaway successes of games utilising simple mechanics, is the seeming belief that simple means a lack of effort. You only have to hop on to an app store, or a ‘speciality store’ to realise just how much you need to wade through to find the quality entertainment, well wade no more as this one is a diamond in a sea of rough. Hm, I don’t think that metaphor went right.
The controls boil down to tilting the iPhone for rotation of your base, and tapping on the screen to fire, with a tap of the base you have sworn to defend creating an impulse that blasts any enemies on the screen away. However, there is a twist in how you can destroy the enemies which takes the gameplay beyond the conventional tap to shoot things mechanic, and into a realm of frustration and frantic tilting that can only be compared to balancing a basketball on a watermelon on a jello shaped like Paraguay. Or a somewhat less specific analogy that still involves alot of tilting.
If you can grasp the basic ’round peg goes into round hole and square peg goes into square hole’ idea, then you should be fine; as you have three turrets on your base (square,triangle and circle) which can only hit their respective shape-sake targets. It is this unique twist that gets the game going, as you swivel your base round in desperation before the enemies can latch onto you. If they do manage to do so, then they will begin to slowly drain your health with the only way to get rid of them being the impulse clearing the screen of any and all enemies.
A sleek and stylish theme underpins the entire game, with simplicity thankfully coming through as a design choice, and not as the unfortunate byproduct of apathy I mentioned before. Now, don’t fool yourselves if you think simple mechanics mean it is an easy game. Spectrum Shock is a game in which you may die rather quickly at first, and if you are anything like me, at second, third and all the way through to at about fifty-ninth, but stick with it, because there is a point the game just clicks. No mass epiphany happens, and don’t expect to be basked in a radiant ethereal glow, but at some point your hands and your brain suddenly look at the game and at once say “Oh, it’s on now” in a manly action movie way, not the camp way that it would come out if I actually said that out loud.
Gamer Limit gives Spectrum Shock for the iPhone 8.5/10