Reviewed: October 19, 2009
Released: October 9, 2009
App Store Price: $2.99
Look at the games Galaga, Asteroids, and Space Invaders. What do they have in common? Of course, they are classic games that helped to shape the way our gaming lives are today. Would you ever think that in the year 2009, you could play these games like you’re really in the environment? Or, even better, having the pixilated characters of those games attack in the real world? Well the fine folks at Chillingo have done just that, at least if you own an iPhone 3GS.
Arcade Reality takes advantage of the all new Augmented Reality features of iPhone OS 3.1, using the onboard camera along with the electronic compass (on the 3GS) to bring an all-new gaming experience. To give a small rundown, Augmented Reality mixes real world images with virtual images to create a whole new environment. This game for example, takes the real world images of your camera and mixes in the pixilated enemies and objects to create a game environment that feels like the enemies are in front of you. To give a small warning, I have not been able to test this game on an iPhone or iPhone 3G, so it is unknown if the game is compatible with those units. (The App Store also lists this warning.)
Arcade Reality features many modes of play effectively giving you three games for the price of one. They include a training mode, an infinite shooter mode, an arcade reality - the game’s main story, and a mode that you can shoot asteroids. I would really recommend trying out the training mode first, as this game will take a little time to learn and even longer to master, especially when you have to control a spaceship or supply ship. Your main way of moving is by moving around in a circle. There is a heads up display that controls your weapons and shields. When you are playing asteroid mode or controlling a supply ship you control them by a button on your HUD for thrust, along with flicking your fingers for direction.
After that, I would progress to either the Arcade Reality mode or the Infinite Shooter mode if you are taking a quick game break. The Arcade Reality mode uses the camera to put you in the game, seeing that pixilated space creatures and flying saucers have taken over your home, your workplace, or even your grocery store. As you progress through the 20+ stages, the enemies get tougher and they attack harder. The infinite shooter mode lets you play attacking infinite enemies until you are defeated, trying to get the highest score possible. This is great for challenging friends to endurance matches, or just for a quick game on a work break.
The asteroid mode lets you take control of a spaceship, in the outer space of your living room. Your goal is the same from the hit arcade game, trying to destroy the asteroids and aliens trying to attack you before you lose all your lives. This mode is difficult and I would suggest mastering the training mode stages before attempting this. Overall, the gameplay gives something for everyone and gives you the feeling of real classic arcade play. The only thing that makes it suffer, in my opinion, are the controls, especially when you’re trying to steer spaceships.
The graphics on this game are pretty good for Augmented Reality. Arcade Reality takes the real world images of your camera and mixes it with the virtual 8-bit style images of your arcade characters. The game menus and interface are very easy to navigate and helps to make the game feel like a real arcade machine. The only con I came to find was the fact that if I let a ship go too far, it would feel like it is a little speck on my floor. If it was able to make boundaries based on the objects on your camera, then it would make it more reality based. Otherwise, I find this to be a great start to a whole new virtual world of gaming on the iPhone.
Overall, the sound quality is great. The futuristic music sounds great and fits the gameplay, and the sound effects are classic. Sound and music, in my opinion, is the best thing to make an “arcade” game feel like an arcade game; however, there are some people who would like to listen to Michael Jackson while they blast aliens and asteroids. To cater to those gamers, Arcade Reality has a setting to allow the playing of iPod music as well.
I believe there is some great potential value in Arcade Reality, which hopefully offsets the $2.99 price tag. The infinite mode, as I mentioned above, is great for endurance games, and passing your iPhone across the room to your friends, trying to get the highest score (although there is no p2p or Bluetooth multiplayer mode). I think that there are chances that future updates could include a co-op mode over Bluetooth, or the chance to use in-app purchases to add even more game modes. Aside, from that, the game is straightforward, and your only real enjoyment after playing the arcade reality mode, is the chance to keep beating your high scores in the other modes. It took me quite awhile to finish this game though, mainly due to the control issues.
For what it’s worth, Arcade Reality takes advantage of great iPhone technology. Mobile Augmented Reality is a fairly new thing, and I could see it going farther in the future. Chillingo and Toyspring have made a great start with Arcade Reality, and I look forward to any coming updates and future titles, seeing how they can make it better as the technology improves and the iPhone hardware evolves over the coming years. This game is recommended for the casual gamer, as well as anyone wanting to explore augmented reality or the new features of their iPhone 3GS.