When I first saw that Apache Overkill was based on a Miniclip game, I feared the worst. The last such title I played offered simplistic, repetitive gameplay and didn't make for a fun gaming experience.
Happily, Apache Overkill is a lot more promising. OK, the gameplay is still simple and repetitive, but it's also a massive amount of fun, keeps me entertained in short bursts. It might not be a game that I ever play in long doses, but it is one that I regularly turn to for a bit of fun when I have a few minutes to kill.
Apache Overkill is unashamedly retro in almost every aspect. Its graphics, sound and gameplay would not have been out of place in (say) a SNES game from 20+ years ago. Don't let that put you off, though: sometimes old is good and Apache Overkill proves that. Apache Overkill t might not be able to rival modern titles for looks, but is surprisingly addictive.
The basic aim is simple: as the pilot of a lone Apache helicopter, you have to fly deep into enemy territory and destroy as many enemy targets as you can. This causes them to drop power ups (such as missiles, bombs or health) which will help you in your mission. Ultimately, you need to pilot your helicopter to the lair of the bad guys and take them down.
In gameplay terms, this equates to a good, old-fashioned horizontal scrolling shoot em up. Your helicopter appears on the far left of the screen, enemies on the right. Your movement is limited to right, left , up and down and your goal is simply to reach the end of each level, destroying as many enemies as you can.
This simple gameplay makes the game instantly accessible. As soon as you fire up the game, you're straight into the blasting action and it's so straightforward that anyone can pick it up and start playing. It might not be deep or complex, but it's a heck of a lot of fun, flying along destroying anything that moves.
It's also an addictive little title which, despite its underlying simplicity, offers a good long-term challenge. Whilst it is easy to get into, Apache Overkill (in the way of 8 and 16 bit games everywhere) is rock hard and will take the average gamer a long time to complete. That said, the difficulty level is well-pitched so that, with practice, you will get just that little bit further each time you play ensuring that there is a good balance between fun and frustration.
The brilliantly simple gameplay is translated into brilliantly simple controls. To control movement, you just need to drag your finger in a particular direction to move your 'copter that way. As well as being intuitive, the controls are highly responsive and within just a couple of minutes of your first game, you will find yourself in the exhilarating position of being able to get yourself out of the tightest of spots with only minimal damage. Pressing your finger on the screen, meanwhile, fires your default weapon (a machine gun), whilst other, more powerful weapons you have collected can be accessed simply by pressing the relevant icon on the screen. This all makes for a very precise, well-thought set of controls.
Graphically, Apache Overkill adopts a deliberately retro feel. Sprites are large and slightly cartoonish, backgrounds are relatively plain, but perfectly suited to the style of the game. I love the retro look and feel of the game and feel it adds far more than super-realistic HD quality graphics would have done. .
The same is true of the sound which is loud and in your face. There are lots of satisfying explosions, some simplistic muffled speech (which both captures the old dodgy 8 bit speech sampling and the sense that the speech is being delivered through flight masks) and a fantastic drum-based "tune" which gets the adrenalin seriously pumping. Like the graphics, the sound is perfectly suited to the game's simplicity and the retro effects are far more appropriate than uber-realistic ones would have been.
There are only really two things that get on my nerves and stop this from being a full five star game. First up is the difficulty level. On later levels, it increases to insane levels that have you manically tapping the screen and weaving and bobbing around in a vain attempt to survive! I have to confess. I have yet to complete the game, as it just so hard. In fairness, though, I keep coming back to try - which just shows how addictive it is!
The second issue is a bit more serious: there is no Save facility and to beat it you have to complete the game in one sitting. Switch the game off or switch to any other application and you lose all your progress to date, so that the next time you play, you have to start all the way back at Level 1. If you're serious about trying to beat it, this limits its pick up and play appeal slightly as you need to set aside a fair chunk of time to meet the challenge.
In fairness, both of these complaints were fairly typical of the old 8 and 16-bit games which Apache Overkill is imitating, so you could argue that it's a weakness of the genre, rather than this specific game. That said; just because historically it was an issue doesn't mean that you have to replicate it in later iterations on new platforms.
Still, for a download price of just 69p, it's easy to overlook these little niggles. Apache Overkill is a simple little game that offers some fantastic old school blasting action. Unashamedly retro in every way, it's a massive amount of fun. It's not a complex title, but it's one that will keep you coming back for another go.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012