Inkvaders iPhone Review

Nothing beats 1950s sci-fi. Whether you're watching a goofball movie like The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original, not that Keanu Reeves garbage) or pretending your sibling is an alien, there's something goofy about the era. With that, Chillingo has a fun little iPhone shooter called Inkvaders, where you defend Earth from aliens.

In the game, you control a heavily armed space cadet as he makes his way across the planets, zapping aliens that teleport down to the surface. As you proceed through the game, the action picks up. Soon there are aliens all over the place, chipping away at your energy bar with their little zappers. Fortunately, you have access to different vending machines. Here, you can buy weapons with heavier firepower, like a twin laser cannon and the blood-splattering rocket launcher. Just remember to balance your budget wisely. You'll need to restock ammo, and it doesn't come cheap.

Along with his weapons, the soldier also has a jetpack, giving him the ability to fly for several seconds. Not only is this useful for temporarily avoiding large groups of aliens, but you can also fly up and grab Money Meteors that increase your cash flow by several hundred dollars. You can also tap on crates to pick up bonus goodies, like extra ammo (if a vending machine isn't nearby).

The game's controls appear at the bottom of the screen. You have your left and right movement, jetpack and fire buttons. Everything's simple to use, even as the game becomes increasingly difficult. The only downside is that it gets a little repetitive. Even if you manage to pick up stronger weapons, you're still just shooting aliens over and over. Still, you'll enjoy watching them explode like ketchup packets.

Inkvaders has crude hand-drawn visuals, with characters that look like paper cutouts and backgrounds taken straight out of the Sunday comics. It suits the game well, however. It's also perfectly set up, so you can see what's going on while watching your cash and ammo count in the corners of the screen.

In terms of the soundtrack, it's not bad. There are 50s-inspired action tunes, along with plenty of explosion noises. However, if you prefer something else, you can crank up your own iTunes in the background. Try to get songs with a space invasion theme, like Joe Satriani's "Surfing With the Alien".

On the downside, you probably won't make it to the later levels because the game's so hard. To make matters worse, you only have so many continues before the game ends. Fortunately, there is a supplementary Endurance mode if you feel like relieving some stress, with repeated waves of aliens coming at you from both sides. (If you need further skill training, there's a Boot Camp tutorial mode.)

On a side note, Chillingo already has an update in the works for Inkvaders. This will introduce boss battles, along with an all-new challenge mode and online leaderboards, so you can tally your cash count with other users. That should make the space party even more of a blast.

For two dollars, you get an excellent side-scrolling shoot-em-up, a combination of Plan 9 From Outer Space and the Contra games, with a little Rocketeer thrown in for good measure. The hand-drawn graphics and entertaining gameplay will keep you battling Inkvaders for hours, so slip on your Martian ears and indulge.

What's Hot: Classic shoot-em-up fun with a slew of buyable weapons, goofy hand-drawn graphics, you can play your own music, insane Endurance mode.

What's Not: Ridiculously hard, can only continue so many times before your game ends, mildly repetitive.

4/5