Here we are, back with another scrolling shooter review. This time it’s iGuardian from Erwin Jansen. When I first played this game I was actually kind of into it, but since I’ve tucked it away for a while and played some other scrolling shooters I’ve realized that there isn’t a whole lot that’s exciting about iGuardian. I still think it has the potential of being a decent entry in it’s genre for the iPhone, but a couple of things need to be dealt with in order for it to become so. Given that the developer has released four games in a series called ArcadeGuardian since iGuardian was released, I doubt we’ll see too many more versions of this one, if any.
As with most scrolling shooters, the idea is to get from point A to point B, blasting everything in site. iGuardian has no story holding things together, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect of it. Unfortunately, there’s not much to the game as a whole. You start the game by selecting a mission (if you’ve never played you get mission 1, but any mission that you’ve started is available any time you come back to the game). You then select from one of three ships: a helicopter, a jet fighter and a Hellcat. Each is ranked according to speed, firepower and armor, and these attributes do seem to make at least some difference in how the game plays out, so choose the one that best fits your skills. Then it’s time to start shooting away until you either complete the level or get killed. You have but one life to live; you can collect health packs to refill your life bar, but once it’s empty the game is over.
Honestly, there’s nothing about the game that’s really all that inspired. Your adversaries are typical: tanks, planes, helicopters, rocket launcher infantry, etc. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before. The level layouts are pretty bland as well, without even having the benefit of many if any “waves” of aerial attackers. The main tactic employed here is the usual “fire so many bullets that there’s no place to dodge” method of eliminating the player. Add to that some excessive use of guns that shoot lasers across the entire width of the screen, and you find yourself in the annoying position of “not if, but when” in terms of getting hit. The worst part is, this is on the easiest setting! You have a health meter that slowly depletes when you get hit, and you can pick up items to replenish that health. You only have one actual life, however, so when that meter is fully depleted it’s game over. There are 5 levels, and I’ve somehow managed to squeak by to level 3 three, but at this point I don’t really have the urge to try and press on any further.
The visuals aren’t bad, and are actually part of what attracted me to the game in the first place. In console terms I’d say they fall somewhere between the NES and SNES, or from a PC perspective maybe late 80’s shareware. The detail level is decent, though the objects aren’t big enough for too much detail. The color palette seems to lean heavily on the side of greens and browns, but the overall look of the game makes it work. It does kind of crack me up that the rocket launcher guys are like half the size of your plane, but I guess scaling them appropriately wouldn’t have worked too well visually. The sound effects are pretty haphazard, with a lot of things making no noise at all and most everything else sounding pretty much the same. The music is okay for a few seconds, but listening to it for any length of time gets pretty grating.
I wish I could say with any confidence that this is another vertical shooter worthy of adding to your collection. Unfortunately, with seasoned titles like iFighter, Skysmash 1918 and Skyforce Reloaded, as well as some fresh blood such as Eveningstar, there’s not a lot to recommend about iGuardian. The game play is pretty basic, the visuals are just average, and the sound is quite lacking. If you’re feeling the need to blow up some enemy aircraft, I highly suggest one of the other titles I’ve mentioned instead.