Tremendous computing power, a huge display, rich sound, and analogue controls via touch or motion sensor. The iPhone was just made for out space shooter game Galaxy on Fire™. For some weeks, our mega-hit is rocking on the iPhone and iPod touch. We have completely reworked all of the graphics, elaborately recomposed the soundtrack, added new sound effects, and developed a new survival mode and analogue controls, for a real outer space feel. But one thing at a time.
Pure outer space eye candy on the iPhone
Right from the start-up sequence, Galaxy on Fire™ for the iPhone has a new look. The FISHLABS logo shimmers in the interlaced monitor design and all of the menus are correspondingly designed. An homage to the early 90s, when many of us spent hours playing Wing Commander and Elite. The first 3D scenes run in the background, more reminiscent of the PC games of the late 90s than a mobile game. Gigantic spaceships glide slowly past the camera, while small fighters fly patrol in front of a huge planet. All of this is accompanied by the familiar Galaxy on Fire™ main theme, but in a rich orchestral sound – I feel like I’m sitting in the cinema.
When is the film finally going to start?
I already have the main menu behind me. I chose the story mode. Of course, I remember the intro well, on the Sony Ericsson K700 at the time. It was impressive, because it was fully animated in 3D, rich in detail, fluid, and with an astonishing visual range. Impressive for a platform where only 2D games had run before. The new intro on the iPhone will knock you out of your socks. A twinkling background of stars shimmers, lone asteroids spin slowly by. The first semi-transparent text box is displayed, while the camera pans gently to one side and a splendid nebula enters the picture. In the middle is a planet, illuminated by a gleaming sun. Subtle lens flares play in the virtual optics. I select continue and the camera pans to a high-resolution, bright orange planet, with a space station in orbit rotating around its own axis in 3D. Eden Prime, AD 3587. It begins. Finally.
Arrival on the iPhone – I mean Eden Prime
Majestically, the SS Ulysses approaches and flies past the camera close enough to touch. The numerous details on the hull of the Terran battle cruiser are clear. On the stern, the gigantic ion drives pulse in bright cyan. Has my jaw dropped? Christine bids me welcome. Sweet. She doesn’t know that we met three years ago. No matter. I don’t let on and follow her to the hangar.
My first mission in outer space on the iPhone
It is roomy here. At the end of the camera pan through the spacious hangar, I spot a small something hovering above the floor. Hmm, it looks as though my first spaceship is still little more that a tin can with rocket engines. Whatever, I listen patiently to Christine’s instructions, and then my first test flight.
Wow! What a frame rate! Small particle fly towards me, my Icarus, with its glowing drives, stands out fantastically from the glittering backdrop of stars. The head up display provides all functions at a glance and, thanks to the huge screen, covers very little of the scene. While Christine explains the basic operation of the controls and the HUD to me, I look for the fire button. The bottom right looks good. PHEEEEW, PHEEW and the first twin laser shots fly toward the horizon in a glowing green. Wicked sound. Again. PHEEEEW, PHEEW. That was definitely missing in the Java version.
In the meantime, Christine approaches the first waypoint. Her ship is far in the distance, recognizable only as a yellow tail and the green marking in the HUD . She is probably wondering where I am. What was that she said about the controls? Ah, the analogue stick in the lower left. This is supposed to work? I’m surprised, the controls are very good. Amazingly smooth, the 3D scene flows past me and I fly in every direction until I start to get dizzy.
Now I really have to hurry to the first waypoint. On a normal mobile phone, the booster would be the ‘3’, but that doesn’t exist on the iPhone. Hmm, maybe the double arrow next to the analogue stick? WOOOOOHOOOOO! Boring tin can? With a noise like a turbine, the Icarus takes off like a bat and my head rocks back slightly, as if I could actually feel the acceleration. Conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I hope no one is watching me play.
To be continued…