iBomber a wannabe bomber pilot’s fantasy

Posted: May 28, 2009 in Arcade

iBomber sounds like such a bland name, and when you play the game, you come to realize it is anything but bland. In fact, even from looking at just the visuals, iBomber looks like a simple bomb dropping game. After spending some time with this, the game not only requires dexterity, but also a good degree of clever thinking.

In iBomber, you play the role of a bomber pilot who is tasked with 12 missions to destroy various enemy cruisers and battleships, fuel depots and bunkers and transport lines among others. My initial impression from looking at the video was that this would be a piece of cake, but in practice, the game offers much more. Using tilt controls to steer and controls speed and touch to access power ups and other important functions which I’ll get to shortly, iBomber offers smooth gameplay and sound effects along with some great graphics.

The 12 missions are:
Harbour Attack
Guardian Angel
Renegade Airstrip
Island Fortress
Sub Hunter
Burning Bridges
Hammerhead
Heart of the Storm
Last Stand
Iron Claw
Viper’s Nest
Run Rabbit Run

Only the first four are unlocked to start, and each comes with its own back story and mission objectives which are elegantly presented. The missions are not short by any means, and you will spend a good deal of time locating targets which are either in plain sight or hidden. Messages appear during the course of the game as objectives are met. In the early missions, I found Guardian Angel to be one of the more difficult missions because the task is to protect an 18-ship envoy as it travels through enemy air and land weapons fire…not easy by any means. The game has two levels of difficulty: Normal and Elite, but Normal offers enough challenge that you may want to hold off on Elite for a while.

In terms of bombs, there are several available: Rocket Bomb, Blockbuster, and Grand Slam that are acquired by destroying targets during the game and tap to acquire. Each type of bomb has different attributes, and you will want to use specific bombs for certain targets and resist carpet bombing as these special bombs are limited in number.

iBomber also includes a medal system which are awarded based on completing missions, buildings and artillery destroyed, ships destroyed, and bombing accuracy. Honestly, this is a bit understated in the game, and the only reason I realized there was a medal system was from reading the Help section. Hopefully, the devs highlight the system and expand it to include career milestones (e.g. number of battleships destroyed, bridges destroyed).
The heart of iBomber is the gratuitous bombing, and the gameplay is something you will grasp on to right away. It can be chaotic as your bomber takes hits from ground fire all while you’re looking for various targets and making sure you hit them. Hitting targets is not easy by any means.

In the game screen, a radar is located in the bottom left-hand corner, which provides directional guidance. The radar is hit or miss for me because many times it would point me in a direction, and to what wasn’t always clear. Along that topic, while the graphics and animation look great, the game screen can abruptly end and turn to black as you reach the border of the screen. My interpretation of the radar would sometimes lead me right into the border area. It’s not a big deal, but it takes away from the feel of the game.

The radar works in conjunction with the compass/target site overlay on the main screen, but the target site can be inaccurate. I would line up my target site with the target, and consistently miss. After some practice and figuring out where bombs land in relation to the target site, I became much better. The moral of the story: don’t rely on the target site for accuracy or better yet, focus on carpet bombing and blow everything up in the general area.

A healthbar and a speed gauge are located next to the radar. In addition to health power ups that appear randomly after destroying targets, speed is another useful way of preserving health. Constantly be moving and do not remain stationary. Otherwise, your bomber becomes an easy target.

A Bombs Away button is located on the right-hand side as well as a Menu flip switch. The Menu flip switch is easily one of the best options in iBomber because it allows you to check your mission objective progress during the game. Why do I feel it necessary to point this out? Too often in games, it’s difficult to keep track of what’s going on, and the Menu flip switch is simple, yet one of the most important as you sort through the chaos.

One issue with the controls is that you cannot set the calibration before entering game, which seems odd. I couldn’t find it until I tripped over it during the game by going to the menu and looking under options. Like I said, the game requires practice, and having uncalibrated controls can be painfully frustrating as you spin uncontrollably.

At the end of a successful or failed mission, a brief statistics page provides a rundown on bombing accuracy and percentages of ships and buildings destroyed. As I said, the medal system could be expanded to tally this information as well.

iBomber is a terrific game and is designed more for the casual gamer in mind. While some missions are unlockable, each is self-contained with its own back story, which adds greatly to the game in addition to the medal system on the replayability side.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for casual gamers and people who don’t easily get frustrated since this is not your typical arcade shooter; WWII/military enthusiasts will love this)

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