What do you get for around a dollar? A donut or some candies and change? Maybe a drink? For around a dollar you won’t get much that lasts long. Except maybe an iPhone app, and even that is not guaranteed to last very long or be useful. Proto from Tobias Batton’s Game Studio costs around a dollar, and I think it is worth every cent.
San Francisco needs your help! It’s the year 2081 and the city has been invaded by aliens. The aliens need San Francisco’s sourdough bread to power their spaceships!
You play as “Proto”, a military combat prototype and San Francisco’s only hope for protection from the evil sourdough bread aliens. Do you have the skills to lead Proto to victory over the Aliens?
Probably the first thing you will notice about Proto is the beautiful artwork. The game is graphically very simple. However the background and Proto itself are very enticing. The controls for Proto are very intuitive and unlike many iPhone games are placed just right. You won’t need to contort your fingers or body to play this game.
Proto is a side scrolling game and the learning curve is extremely easy. In fact it is deceptively simple. A casual look at the game will miss the tactical complexity that is offered by the different power ups, particularly the ball. There are 11 Levels of difficulty and varying colors/strengths of aliens to fight.
At the start you just stride around cutting up any aliens in sight. When you achieve levels you are rewarded with power-ups. One power-up, the Cyberball, turns Proto into an indestructible ball that can roll around unimpeded by aliens. The first time around I discarded it because the ball itself couldn’t damage anything and so seemed pointless. However after playing another couple of times I discovered that I could pop out of the Cyberball right next to aliens, avoiding their ranged weapons, which you can’t do while in normal striding mode.
To get to the higher levels it is really important to avoid damage, your health needs to be marshaled all the way. The Cyberball and the Phazer power-ups are easy to discount on first glance , because they are either non-damaging or slow to deploy, but are actually very important to achieving higher levels.
It is not all gravy, Proto can be slow to respond to a change of commands. When slashing in one direction Proto will not turn around for a frustratingly long time. Also while the artwork is very nice, it is also very limited and does not change between levels. Apart from those two little niggles the game has a lot of potential.
Some things that I would like to see in future versions, along with the play improvements noted above, are obstacles and barriers; and to go with that jumping and barrier breaching tools. Adding another type of enemy unit – like a flying unit – could improve the technical complexity, and giving Proto combination attacks would make for a more rounded game. It could be one of the best iPhone side-scrolling games around so its not all sourdough!
MSRP: $0.99 US
What I Like: Beautiful Artwork, Controls are simple and elegant and tactics are non- obvious.
What Needs Improvement: Control response & amount of artwork