Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Sela the Space Pirate (iPad)

Arrr! This game is tougher than pirate’s pegged leg matey.

Sela the Space Pirate is a punk. I mean this not only in a nice way, but in a literal sense as well. She’s the epitome of what it is to be “steampunk.” Err… just without the “steam,” that is. Anyway, if you’re up for a fun little iOS bullet hell shoot ‘em up that’s tough as nails and has a wacky sense of style, then look no further than Sela the Space Pirate.

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already played some sort of horizontal or vertical scrolling shooter on a touchscreen before. If not, it is as easy as using a fingertip to move your spaceship around the screen to shoot thousands of enemies. Okay, it isn’t that easy, because those “thousands of enemies” shoot back and you’ll find oftentimes yourself paying just as much attention to weaving your ship through the onslaught of enemy fire, as you will to what you’re actually firing back at.  

Sela finds herself to be quite competent when it comes to destroying everything in her path. The controls are tight and responsive, just as they should be and switching between the various weapons is as simple as touching two on-screen buttons at the top of the screen. Defeated enemies drop coins that can be used to upgrade your ship’s arsenal and armour, which you’ll need, because it’s only a few levels into the 30 that are available when the difficulty ramps way up.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Sela and her robotic co-pilot accidently fly into an asteroid belt, finding them having to destroy a massive meteor to survive. Surprisingly, the duo instantly finds themselves in amongst a horde of aliens – the meteorite was an alien nest! But that’s not all; the Space Bunnies Police also join into the fray, which quickly finds a mixture of both police and alien bugs to fight against – literally filling the entire screen with bugs, bunnies, bullets and lots (and lots) of coins. There are hundreds of things moving onscreen at times, but in the latter levels, this pushes up to a thousand or more. Impressively, it manages to do all of this without a single noticeable hitch in the framerate - tested on an 4th Generation iPad.

What sets Sela apart from the average shooter is its crazy sense of style and humour. Graphically, there’s a cool visual gimmick at play here that has you looking down into what appears to be a vintage arcade cabinet. The graphics have this washed-out appearance to them, which is further emphasised by the use a matte palette. Well, that is until the Space Bunnies Police arrive, of course. Their vibrant pink and white coloured spacecraft distinctly contrast against the alien’s matte finishes, but this also helps you to quickly adapt to their different movement and weapon patterns as well. While you’re not shooting – at the beginning and end of every stage – you’ll get to laugh through the comic book styled chats between Sela and her robotic friend. Lots of obnoxious laughter and pirate-talk ensues, which is definitely a change of pace from the serious nature that’s commonly found within the genre.

Sela the Space Pirate takes her swashbuckling adventure into the bullet hell depths of space to fight off slimy aliens and the cutesy Space Bunnies Police. While the game’s steampunk styled protagonist might be carefree, it’ll take extreme care and precision to overcome the extreme challenge that the enemy hordes bring forth. If you’re itching for an iOS shoot ‘em up with a little extra style – look no further than Sela the Space Pirate. 


- Christopher Ingram
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