Inkvaders delivers an ‘invadingly’ fun game of survival

Posted: August 19, 2009 in Shooter

Animated side shooters are one of those categories I’ve never really been a fan of because outside of the great animation and short-term adrenaline rush, the gameplay tends to be repetitive. Inkvaders is a new addition to the category that actually plays quite well because it incorporates a few new elements that up the level of gameplay and differentiates it from others. Along with a unique art style, Inkvaders delivers an amazingly fun experience that even appeals to non-fans like me.

The storyline is a creative one because it follows a stranger’s random drawings that suddenly turn into a shooting match against aliens on paper. You play the role of Generic Marine a.k.a G whose job is to defend against Martians that have invaded the Moon and Earth. Visually, the game looks great with smooth animation both in the front with G and the Martians and in the backgrounds. Martians exploding into pieces follows the along the lines of the usual gore I’ve come to expect with these types of games, and Inkvaders doesn’t disappoint. Inkvaders does a terrific job of incorporating animation so that we’re not just looking at static backgrounds. Ships and buildings exploding are all part of the background scenes and terrifically provide additional visuals to the overall game. The overall scrapbook look and feel is further complemented by a hand that pulls back the page after a level is completed or G gets killed and needs to be replaced. The art style is quite distinctive with characters literally designed to appear as paper cutouts waging a war.

The game offers two play modes: Story and Endurance. Story takes you through the 30 levels across 3 different environments with 3 levels of difficult—easy, normal and hard. Endurance is survival mode where you complete as many levels or pages as possible. A Boot Camp tutorial is also offered that provides a sample level for skills practice.

The game is controlled by dual movement arrows with separate buttons for boost and fire. In terms of boost, this is a great dynamic because aside from shooting at a frantic pace, G can also temporarily jet across the screen over Martians via his jet pack. It’s a welcome addition because these types of shooters, well, tend to focus on running and shooting. The flying part definitely adds something new to the mix.

In terms of weapons, there are 3 basic types: energy, shotgun and grenade launcher, each upgradeable 5 times. An option also exists to switch out weapons during in-game play so there’s no need to worry about carrying too much.

As is typical with these types of games, destroying Martians will help G earn money to fund his Armageddon attack. But Inkvaders has a vending machine set-up so G can get in and out as quickly possible. These vending machines appear a few times during each level, and by tapping on it, G can upgrade weapons, buy ammo, and improve his health all at a price. In addition to blowing up Martians, various meteors and rocks can be collected for monetary gain, and these are usually placed high in the air or zip by which is where the boost ability comes in handy. It’s minor in the scheme of things, but having the ability to fly really does add to the game’s entertainment value.

Now while boost is available, it is also temporary. G has two gauges—health and boost—and whenever boost is used, it temporarily drains and needs time to cool down once completely depleted. Of course, boost gradually builds back up during the game.

Power ups are also available along G’s path of carnage in the form of specially identified crates that can be accessed by touch and only when G is nearby. These power ups include health, ammo, and boost. A Rush mode labeled with a big “R” is also accessible that sends out massive waves of Martians from both sides. It’s intended for those who want to rack up more money quickly, but it also depletes ammo while risking health. So, in other words, don’t just tap items because you can.

The gameplay is basic in that you’re out to blast Martians, but it can be rather challenging especially when hordes are coming at G. Instead of having a place to hide, G must rely on his quick shooting or hovering with the jet pack. While they appear from the sides, Martians also appear from above through a bright blue light. They tend to be outfitted differently as you progress through the levels which help with variety, but this game is strictly Martians so hopefully more characters are added later. The game does become repetitious after a while, but I have to say that Inkvaders offers an amusing experience because of the additional elements I mentioned. It’s obvious that the devs tried to create a somewhat different feel, which I think they accomplished. On a side note, while the game will save your progress with a resume function and allows you to play your own music, it doesn’t have auto screen flip.

Along with its high production values, Inkvaders includes a few elements that make this game enjoyable. As I said, I’m not usually a fan of these types of games, but Inkvaders is one that I would recommend.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (innovative design and additional gameplay elements makes this fun and challenging)

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