Tumiki Fighters – a fun side-scrolling shooter hindered by quirky controls

Posted: September 2, 2009 in Shooter

Unorthodox and unusual…two attributes that can be interpreted either positively or negatively. That seems to be the case with Tumiki Fighters, a side-scrolling shooter where those attributes definitely apply. However, if you can get beyond the temperamental controls, Tumiki Fighters delivers a positive experience with a few quirks here and there.

The abstract artwork is the most obvious and rather striking for the simple fact that everything is made of virtual blocks. From your ship and enemy aircraft to the weapons fire and background environments, this game looks like a pastel colored Lego set. Consisting of 12 levels, this is a typical shooter with the simple goal of destroying everything in your path while avoiding enemy fire. While the levels are short, the game is downright challenging so shortness is a good thing in this case.

Besides the artwork, the Tumiki Fighters incorporates a few interesting elements that fall under the unusual category. Because everything is composed of blocks, destroying enemy ships results in blocky debris that falls all over the place. These pieces of debris can actually be captured by your ship to which not only increases its strength, but also acquires the enemy’s weapons.

In addition, these parts also serve as shields blocking and deflecting weapons fire and because the game is so fast-paced, those parts usually don’t stay on for more than a few seconds. The enemies themselves come in assorted shapes with different arrays of weapons fire that intensify as more parts stick to your ship. Physical changes to your ship are not uniform or even pretty for that matter. Think of a sticky ball of tape after it’s been rolled around on a dirty floor, and you have a good idea of what your ship could look like.

For many, the control scheme and its responsiveness will be the biggest uncertainty. Accelerometer controlled, your fighter can move in any direction by tilting accordingly. While the fighter is located on the left side and facing right, you can maneuver the ship in any direction even behind enemy ships. Also, Tumiki Fighters has an unorthodox control scheme with a Shoot area down the left side of the screen, and Slow/Pull-in on the right side. Slow decreases the vessel speed, while Pull-in pulls debris towards the ship. The accelerometer and on-screen controls are workable, but honestly, the game could use calibration and sensitivity settings. Combine this with the relative difficulty of the game which is not a bad thing, and you may test the patience of some gamers. Having said that, the gameplay is both intense and frantic with enemies, debris and weapon’s fire coming from all directions involving as much luck as skill.

Tumiki Fighters is an intense shooter that can be a lot of fun once you’re comfortable with the controls. Visually different, the game offers a unique dynamic that allows for ship expansions based on collecting the remnants of destroyed enemy aircraft. While the controls need tweaking, Tumiki Fighters is ideal for advanced shooter gamers, and potentially for novices willing to adjust to the game’s controls.

Albie Meter: 3.5 Stars (recommended with caveats for those looking for a shooter with an unusual art style and a different gameplay element; controls are workable, but alternative control options may be ideal for broader appeal)

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