I picked Heavy Mach. up after seeing the review over at TouchArcade. It illustrates one of the most fantastic aspects of the iPhone gaming marketplace in the app store: a small-time developer can make a game that, while it is obviously a high-quality game, is very simple relative to the console games of today, put a $3-$7 price on it, sell a ton of copies, and make a healthy profit to maintain a viable business. As a consumer, I don’t really have to do a lot of deliberating to decide if I should spend $3 on a game. I check the reviews on iTunes. If they are largely positive, I may look at a couple of the negative reviews first to see if the reviewer is coherent, second to see if they have a complaint I could see myself sharing. If not, I’m probably hitting the “Buy” button.
This is one such case: a game that launched to a number of good reviews including the aforementioned TouchArcade review. It looked cool enoughâ€”even slightly reminiscent of Metal Slug. If you like action arcade games, you should own this game especially considering the bargain price.
There are a number of good things to say about the game, but I will start with a few minor complaints. I believe the game could use a little more guidance. It actually took a while before I realized I was controlling the movement of the tank. The game seems to calibrate the acceleromter control such that holding the phone level moves the tank forward to the right. I thought the game was just setup so that the tank proceeded through the level automatically. It wasn’t until I reached a boss that I could not defeat in the time it would have taken me to proceed past him that I realized I could tilt to move backward or maintain my position. It also took a while to figure out how to jump. I knew I could jump after watching a video of the game in action, but it took a bit of fiddling to realize I needed to tap the lever. It also isn’t immediately obvious that the position of your tap on the screen controls the trajectory of your shot since most players will naturally tap in the direction of enemies anyway. Also, I recently discovered I have a double-jump. I discovered this after upgrading my movement so I’m not sure if this was a feature added in the upgrade or if I had just missed it before.
My only other substantive complaint is that it is a bit difficult to change weapons in the heat of battle. As it stands, the player taps on the weapon icon on the HUD to scroll through the available weapons. You can gain access to quite a few weapons at a time which makes it a bit tedious to scroll all the way through the options while also dodging fire from three or four on-screen enemies.
Others have mentioned that the in-game “Menu” button does not work which I’m sure will be fixed soon. It doesn’t really have a profound effect on the game although it would be nice to have a way to pause the action which I’m sure this button would provide.
There are far more good things to say about this game. As I mentioned, the game seems to calibrate so that holding the phone level advances your tank. You will find yourself moving forward more often than not so it is helpful to be able to hold the phone in the neutral position to accomplish this. Even the acceleromter controls are very tight. This comes from the fact that there are only three states: moving left, moving right, and not moving. It’s very easy to move around. The rest of the controls are simple. I found myself sometimes having trouble finding the jump lever while also watching the action on the screen, but this was rare.
There are two basic mechanics in the game: shooting enemies and dodging enemy fire. Shooting is simple to execute by tapping in the direction you wish to fire. Dodging is very challenging because there are often multiple enemies firing shots that take different trajectories. Although this can get a little hairy at times, it never feels cheap. You can almost always escape death by manuvering with skill. Some enemies also drop crates that contain weapons, powerups, or health pickups to get you through the tough parts.
The sound effects in the game are satisfying. Explosions, bullets, and missles all feel “large” as they should. The game doesn’t have music which makes it a bit of a bummer that it stops the music from the iPod app when you launch the game.
This is currently one of my favorite action games on the platform alongside Chopper, 2079, and Blue Attack. If you’re looking for a quick and satisfying action experience on the go, I can’t imagine Heavy Mach. would disappoint you. New levels are promised in a free update to this game that already oozes value from every orifice. Tomorrow morning, ditch Starbucks for the local convenient store coffee and spend the savings on this!