A space cowboy blasts ugly aliens in this cheap and addictive iPhone app.
Why howdy partner, and welcome to this here Billy Frontier review. Hope you put on yer gamin spurs and loaded yer six shooter, cuz it's pistols at dawn, and those ugly lookin' aliens will fill ya fulla lead. Better get your fingers ready for some pokin. Otherwise, this iPhone game will knock you on your behind faster than this here whiskey.
OK, now that we got that out of the way, Billy Frontier is a fun iPhone app from Pangea Software, the developer behind Cro-Mag Rally, but it's much more enjoyable. You play as Billy Frontier, a space cowboy on a mission kill varmints, or in this case, alien outlaws. Forget that the premise makes no sense or that the environments look an awful lot like Earth. This is a flawed but cool spaghetti western with a decent amount of variety.
Billy Frontier is a collection of four wild west-themed mini games. Stampede challenges you to guide Billy (by tilting the iPhone) to outrun a bunch of Kanga-Cows, critters that are half kangaroo and half cow. Although these creatures move fast, you can score a temporary speed burst if you pick up some chili peppers. With solid tilt controls, Stampede is good times.
Dueling lets you become the fastest gun in the west. That is, if you have equally fast fingers. As Billy makes his way to a bunch of aliens with itchy trigger fingers, you must input patterns of triangles and circles by pressing the corresponding buttons on the touch screen, the goal to complete a set amount before all characters draw their weapons. Succeed, and Billy makes short work of his enemies. While cool, those triangle and circle buttons don't always register fast enough when pressed, so be sure to take your time to avoid an error.
Target Practice tests your shooting skills by throwing all sorts of objects into the air (cows, bottles, TNT, barrels full of coins, aliens) and you blast them with your finger, the goal to score tons of points. Both addictive and tough, you'll enjoy scoring kills and breaking things.
Finally, there's Shootout, a first person mode where you wander through either a town or a swamp killing aliens (again, by tapping them with your finger) and breaking boxes to pickup health, coins and ammo. This mode plays on rails, meaning you don't move Billy, other than pressing left and right arrows to spin him 360 degrees. We dig this mode, especially since it's possible to run out of bullets, which forces us to play smart. However, it's tough nailing a far away alien because in order to do so, you need to put your finger over the target. Furthermore, it's impossible to dodge attacks, making it critical to acquire more health.
Presentation wise, Billy Frontier is impressive. Its dramatic and catchy music is among the best we've heard in an iPhone app, a wonderful mix of western themes that draw you into the action. In addition, the graphics look pretty sweet, with aliens in cowboy hats, 3-D towns, hulking Kanga-Cows and other neat stuff.
Although we enjoyed playing this game, it's far from perfect. When you first boot it up, there's a message advising you to reboot your iPhone if it crashes. We never experienced crashing, but it's never good when you need to warn gamers of unstable code. We're also puzzled why there's no online leaderboards (we'd love to upload scores), and when we die, the game kicks us back to the title screen, instead of the screen with the mini games.
Those issues aside, Billy Frontier is a steal at .99. There's enough blasting and Kanga-Cow running to keep you busy for a few hours. Just be on the lookout for crashes. Unless Pangea fixes them, it could become one our most wanted.
What's Hot: Dramatic music, old western-style graphics, addictive blasting, zany premise, cool mini games.
What's Not: Dying brings you to the title screen, occasionally crashes, imprecise touch screen shooting.