Sketch Nation Shooter; or The Tale Of The Lazy, But Ingenious Developer (iPhone Game)

App developer Engineous Games has done something very awesome and interesting in a retro sort of way. I’m of course talking about the game entitled Sketch Nation Shooter. The game is an old school 2-D shooter game with an equally cool and retro twist. The game features good game mechanics, decent albeit hand drawn graphics, and a few really cool extra features.

The game play in this game changes over time and with every new level pack that can be downloaded. In essence this game is just an attempt to cash in on the low-fi trend that is popping up in the AppStore. Games like doodle jump, and Sketch Nation are showing the world that even if you can’t draw a super-realistic-hyper-intense 3D reproduction of the human form; that doesn’t mean you can’t make a kick ass game. Much like the Galaga clones of the 80’s this game features lots of flying enemies for you to shoot down as you fly through the air or space or even water – depending on which level pack you play. There is more than one mode of play available here. You can do just like Galaga, fly from the bottom of the screen toward the ever approaching horizon at the top of you iDevice. Or maybe you loaded one that is like the popular game called R-Type, flying towards the left or right of the horizontally oriented iDevice. Where this game differs from both is the interesting fact that you can make your own version of the game, much like the Excitebike cartridge of the NES glory days. In this game, unlike Galaga or R-Type, you use your finger to navigate. No buttons to mess with, just slide your finger across the screen and your little digital character responds in kind. No firing mechanism here as you are always unleashing Hell upon anyone who would dare get in front of you. In all honesty, this game couldn’t be simpler and I couldn’t be happier because of it.

Most of the graphics are either low-fi hand drawn etchings, or what looks like old 8bit bullets from days of yore. One cool thing here though is that the game encourages you to upload your own. You can do this by drawing on a sheet of paper with a pen or pencil and taking a picture via the on-board camera, or you could do like I did and upload some old artwork from internal storage. I have to say it’s very interesting to see my tribal tattoo designs shoot each other down. You can even upload your own levels. By level I of course mean you would draw a course that you’d have to fly through and dodge the closed shapes you drew. There is the option, if you’re too lazy to do your own, to download other peoples levels.

Some of the other cool features include FaceBook integration, over the air leader boards, and the sharing feature. This sharing feature allows you to share your own home-brewed level packs with the world or just your friends. The creation tool is a little thick if you’re not in the mood, but it’s pretty easy. Just select what you want to edit, click the picture you want to upload, and then carry on till you’re satisfied with the level. Once you’re done, you can play the level right away. Or if you’re really committed you can test each individual element you’ve made before giving it life. If you’re not into the FaceBook scene though, you can do like I did and skip that part. it really doesn’t affect gameplay or the ability to download/upload content.

At the modest price of $0.99 here in the US, this game is too cool to not download once and give it a shot. Even if you’re not into playing a 2-D shooter version of Halo, or driving down highway 88 in a red sports car dodging traffic, it’s cool enough to just download it and make annoying levels to challenge your friends with. I’m going to give this game an eight of ten possible points, mostly for the cool factor and the fact that you can make the game as boss as you want just by putting you’re own artwork into it. If they could go as far as to allow me to import my own music so I could my own bad ass version of spy hunter and play the Peter Gun theme while I do so, that’d be worth a perfect ten!

Game rated on a 10 point scale.

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