Game Boy? Is that you?
Fans of the original Game Boy would be wise to download Stardash, the latest iPhone and iPad release from OrangePixel. Featuring simple controls, black and white graphics and cool 8-bit style music, this modern day platform adventure offers gamers an old school fix with modern day conveniences.
In a sense, it reminds us of Nintendo's 1989 Game Boy launch title, Super Mario Land (right down to exploding shells and coins), but with more levels (40, plus secret temples) and leaderboards via OpenFeint.
Here, players take control of a sunglasses wearing hero and guide him through a series of challenging stages, leaping over enemies (or directly onto them), jumping across chasms, dodging projectiles and searching for hidden keys.
Unlike Mario's typical adventures, there are no power-ups to speak of. That said, falling into a bottomless pit or getting hit sends the little guy all the way back to the beginning of the level.
With this in mind, gamers must make pinpoint precision jumps, where being even a pixel short results in death. It gets a bit frustrating, but on the positive side, stages are short and the virtual controls feel spot on, which makes restarts a bit less painful than in other games.
On that note, while we appreciate the hard work that went into Stardash, the entire experience feels a bit hollow. While smartly designed, we established no emotional connection to the main character. To be fair, many classic games lack deep and engrossing stories, but even Mario titles had some sort of narrative backbone. Give us something. A princess, a mad scientist...anything.
That issue aside, we still enjoyed Stardash for what it is: a fun homage to the glory days of video games, back when controllers didn't have a whole mess of buttons. Ah, memories.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
What's Hot: Game Boy style graphics and music, 40 levels, hardcore challenge, OpenFeint support, achievements.
What's Not: No emotional connection with the hero, controls take some getting used to.