Reviewed: September 29, 2009
Released: September 18, 2009
App Store Price: $3.99
Underground is your classic 2D side-scrolling shooter with a slight urban twist that gives it a radical look while retaining a classic gameplay style. There is a self-narrated story at play, one that I still donít quite understand, but you really donít need to know why cans of spray paint are morphing into space ships and shooting down enemy artwork as you travel from subway station to subway station. Supposedly, the entire game is taking place inside the twisted mind of a graffiti artists, and to its credit, the game unfolds much like a bad acid trip.
Gameplay is simple once it gets started. You tip and tilt your iPhone (or iPod Touch) to move your ship around the screen as it auto-fires the currently active weapon at a stream of enemies that resemble graffiti tags and artwork. If you want, you can even point to the screen to aim your shots in a certain direction. As the game progresses the enemies increase in number and stamina and will start to leap from the bottom of the screen or sneak in behind you.
Power-ups allows you to change your type of weapon, both power and direction, sometimes firing a spread forward or a single shot in all four directions or even a rapid-fire mode. These are always short bursts of increased power before you return to the default shot. There are 11 different weapons in all giving you a nice assortment when it comes to attacking the 60 different enemy types, and when you factor in numerous game stages and three difficulty levels, there is a lot of R-Type shooting action waiting for you in Underground.
Graphically, the game is pretty impressive with nice parallax scrolling for a multi-layered effect. The spray-can ship and tag-inspired enemies are definitely sprite-like and there isnít much in flashy special effects, but the game is clean, colorful, and pleasing to the eyes.
The audio is also quite nice with a catchy hip-hop score composed by Pp3d that gets repetitive at times but never annoying. Sound effects are completely unexpected with odd mind-trip sounds that fit with the visuals.
Levels are around 2-3 minutes making this a great game for casual mobile gameplay, and the game auto-saves so you can always start where you left off. The difficulty ramps up significantly, as early as the third stage when blocks of graffiti block your path and you are forced to dodge and weave environmental obstacles as well as fight off the enemy tags.
$4 seems a bit excessive but Iím betting the price will drop or theyíll have a sale soon, so wait until it hits $1.99 or less then definitely pick it up. Itís a fun and challenging old-school shooter with a fresh vibe, a clever visual hook and catchy beats.