Back in the 80s, I loved the Death Star assault sequence in Star Wars and longed to be able to recreate it on my humble Commodore 64. Sadly, the old 8-bit computers weren't really up to creating fast 3D graphics, so my dreams of swooping down tunnels and narrow corridors remained unfulfilled. Wipeout came along in the 90s, but for some reason the game never really grabbed me. Supersonic HD on the iPhone, however, is a different kettle of fish.
Supersonic HD is one of those games to which the iPhone is ideally suited. Relatively simple in terms of graphics, sound and gameplay, it is nevertheless, a lot of fun to play in short bursts. It's a first person 3D game which puts you at the controls of a spaceship which must negotiate its way through a fast-moving set of tunnels. Along the way, you must collect blue orbs (for points and score multipliers) whilst avoiding red blobs (which reduce your score multiplier back to 1) and girders which bar your way. Your ship can rotate 360 degrees, so you can fly along the sides of the tunnel or even on the roof in order to avoid obstacles. Just don't hit a barrier or it's Game Over.
Supersonic is not the most graphically stunning game you have ever seen, but it is remarkably effective. The game is played out using a vector-graphics style approach where the various segments of the tunnel are picked out in simple lines, with no filling. The various other objects (orbs and girders) are similarly drawn with little fuss. This simplicity allows the processing power to be devoted to making the game fast, and it moves at an incredible pace, giving you that genuine sense of flying by the seat of your pants.
Indeed, sometimes you can feel that the game is a little too fast: obstacles suddenly seem to be on you, giving you little time to react, which can be a little bit frustrating. However, this is also part of the title's appeal and the feeling of always being slightly out of control as you race along the tunnels at breakneck speed is great. The feeling you get when successfully nip through the tiniest of gaps with millimetres to spare will have you whooping in excitement.
The in-game music is excellent adopting the same sort of techno-style soundtrack that the Wipeout series was renowned for. Normally, this type of music is not my thing, but it is perfectly suited to the frenetic pace and really gets the adrenalin pumping. There's not much beyond the music - other effects are limited to fairly standard beeps - but the music does such a good job of establishing atmosphere that you won't notice.
Controls are perfectly balanced and give you a fighting chance to succeed, despite the frantic pace. Hold your iPhone in landscape mode and tilt it left or right in order to move. Tilting it harder increases the angle of your turn, allowing you for fly along the tunnel walls or roof. These simple controls are incredibly responsive and simple to pick up. You instantly feel comfortable with them and, whilst it might take you a few goes to master the exact level of tilt required, it won't be long before you feel perfectly in control of the hurtling ship.
It's true to say that there isn't much to Supersonic and it's not a game that you will be playing for long periods at a time. There are only two modes and these don't offer a great deal of variety. In Classic Mode the aim is to survive for as long as you can, amassing as high a score as possible. In Blitz Mode, you are given a 30 second time limit with the aim of scoring as many points as possible.
Whichever mode you play, games tend to be short, fast and frantic. In Classic Mode, an average gamer (like myself) will probably last around 1-2 minutes (and your first few games will be considerably shorter!). This is not a game with lots of secrets to uncover and the unvarying gameplay does mean that it becomes a touch repetitive after only a short while.
It does, however, have plenty of long-term appeal precisely because of the short game times. The uninvolved gameplay means it's an ideal title to play if you just want to kill a couple of minutes before a bus arrives or whilst waiting for someone. Unlike some games, Supersonic HD combines both short term fun and long-term appeal. It's a game you're likely to be coming back to several months down the line.
At £1.49, it's perhaps a touch on the expensive side, but still worth considering if you're after a fun little game that will keep you coming back for more. Supersonic HD might not be the most complex game in the world, or have the insanely addictive qualities of some games, but it's enjoyable enough. It will cost less than the price of a McDonald's hamburger, and is much better for you!
© Copyright SWSt 2012