A lone astronaut has travelled to an alternate cubist dimension where everything is an embodiment of music, her mission is to rescue each and every last of her captured comrades before returning. However, it won’t be a simple journey as this strange other realm – although filled with much surreal beauty – is positively fraught with danger lying in wait at every twist and turn! Thankfully for the plucky heroine, her ship has been armed with a powerful energy shield – complete with a generator to recharge its power cells over time – that can deflect any oncoming obstacles out of her way.
Lucky Frame’s recent Wave Trip (out now, $1.99), might best be described as a 2D arcade style game that is most closely comparable to Sega’s famous/infamous cult hit Rez. The music heard during the game is actually created as the player interacts with the environment, meaning that the auditory experience from two different runs of the same level will never be quite the same. Even better is the fact that Wave Trip comes with both a fully featured in-app level editor, as well as server for hosting levels created by players, meaning that a virtually infinite amount of gameplay is contained inside.
The controls here are kept remarkably simple, with players holding down on the right side of the screen to activate their thrusters and the left side in order to turn on their shields. Essentially the thrusters cause the player’s spaceship to move upwards, but there is also a sense of momentum that must be dealt with in order to properly maintain the spaceship at the desired altitude. Thrust too long and the spaceship will continue to rocket upwards for a ways after the button is released – possibly accidentally hitting enemies in the process – but the same is true in reverse as well, if the spaceship is allowed to plummet for too long then the thrusters won’t immediately reverse the downward motion either.
The shields in question will flash on for a fraction of a second when activated, bouncing back any of the nearby pink aliens in the process, and up to two shield charges can be held in storage. Thankfully, the charges for the shield generator are represented by yellow floating balls – closely following your spaceship – so you will never have to take your eyes off the action in order to confirm if you still have a shield on hand or not. As the shields can take a bit of time to fully restock, the player will have to learn how to judiciously apply their barriers so that they always have at least one charge in stock for those situation that can’t merely be avoided.
Other than avoiding – and sometimes shield bouncing – the evil pink aliens that litter the landscape of this alternate synthesizer dimension, there are of course the various blue and orange thingamajigs that need to be picked up in order to complete a stage. In each looping section of a stage you will see one of the astronaut’s captured friends held prisoner inside a bubble on the right, they will be freed – and you will proceed on to the next looped section – when all the orange items in the current area have been picked up. The blue shapes – on the other hand – are technically optional to pick up, but you’ll generally want to do so as they raise the combo gauge that determines how many points the orange things are worth.
Here in lies one of the main two hooks that makes Wave Trip so positively addicting: the game’s deathless scoring system that will simultaneously have you both pulling your hair out yet always chomping at the bit to retry a level one more time. Coming into contact with the various pink aliens doesn’t actually cause any form of physical harm to the heroine’s spaceship, it instead does something far more sinister and maniacal: it resets your combo gauge back down to a lowly value of one. As you start digging into Wave Trip you will quickly become obsessed with finding the most efficient way to hold off on collecting any orange items until you have first picked up all of the blue ones, all while never hitting a single pink alien.
The existence of a separate high score table for each of the stages that come prepackaged with Wave Trip, as well as the smorgasbord of additional user uploaded content, only further provides incentive to hit that retry button one more time.
The other part that makes each and every stage of Wave Trip so magically delicious is that the music of each loop segment is actually different each and every time you run through it, created in real time by how you play. Each orange and blue thingamajig adds a note to the musical loop for the current section that stays there until you free your friend and move on to the next part, with the specific shape and elevation of the item representing both the pitch and type of instrument. Picking up the symbols in a different order will make the musical loop for that section different each and every time, truly making you one with the music every time you play Wave Trip.
iFanzine Verdict: Wave Trip is a musical wonderland where the catchy background music changes every time a stage is played in reaction to the gamer’s actions, and furthermore comes with a heavily addictive combo based scoring system that will leave players chomping at the bit to always retry a level one more time in pursuit of the perfect performance. On top of all that, Wave Trip further features an in-app level editor which – coupled with the ability for users to download levels made by other players – ensures that the amount of rhythmic gameplay contained within is positively endless. Add to that a simple touch based control scheme that works flawlessly, and you have an amazingly unique game that is perfectly suited to mobile gaming sessions both short and long.