- Strangely elegant upgrade of the original title; enemies galore, power-up modifiers and smooth 2D visuals.
- Casual mode available for those who want to see what later stages have to offer.
- Classic modes also available.
- Appeal of the controls will vary from person to person; while easy enough to learn, 'rubber-band-like' drag controls lack an intuitive feel to them.
Gridrunner may not be an entirely new product from Jeff Minter, but as always the mash-up of gaming nostalgia and distinctly modern influences makes for an appealing 'retro' remake.
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Once again I brace myself for entering in to the hyper-stylized world that Llamasoft inhabits in order to get to grips with their latest release, Gridrunner. Don't be fooled though, this isn't the first time developer Jeff Minter has tinkered with his C64 and VIC-20 title (PC gamers may remember the insane remake from a few years ago), but in what seems like a surprising display of conservative design, the iOS release shares a lot of similarities with the original title.
This is great news for Gridrunner as its original formula holds up well even today - you pilot a spaceship locked on to a grid and must clear the screen of its multitude of enemies while avoiding blasts from the cannons that shoot from above and from the side.
Thankfully, in typical Llamasoft style, the game kicks in to overdrive almost immediately, with players being able to earn power-ups that act like weapon modifiers. These can range from turning your ship in to a hulking invincible behemoth, to changing the direction of your fire; the speed of your fire; and the spread of your fire. Get lucky enough and you'll blaze the screen in rainbow-filled glory as your ship pulses with a halo of bullets.
As always, the controls play a pivotal role in adding to the game's appeal, with the player 'dragging' the ship around the grid in order to avoid its many hazards. There's an odd rubber-band like feel that may put some players off as it doesn't conform to the expected direct or relative control schemes of other shooters, but after only a few tries you'll have no trouble at all.
Gridrunner's magic comes from its ability to sustain a level of challenge regardless of how powerful you become - when you're not powered up you're at the mercy of your skill, but when everything becomes rainbows and explosions you'll need to rely on your ability to discern dangers amongst the visual overload.
If you're after a shooter that's willing to throw everything at you, grab Gridrunner.