Abstract Art

You can usually count on one of three things when it comes to iOS games: round objects, defending something, or a presentation that borders on truly psychedelic. Mindfruit Interactive decided to take advantage of all three in Croma (Out Now for $0.99; Lite), an utterly stylish, sphere defense shoot ’em up!

Representing the player in Croma is a pair of glowing rings set at the bottom-center of the touchscreen. The larger one must be defended by its smaller counterpart, which acts as a rotating machinegun turret that shoots in whatever direction the player holds. Now, its bullets don’t behave in the sense that shoot ’em veterans are used to; rather than destroy incoming enemies, the projectile dots merely impart their own momentum to the target. Enemies – represented by filled circles – vary quite a bit in size as they fall toward the player’s ring, and the number of shots needed to deflect them varies accordingly.

Now, here’s where things get really interesting: enemies fall in two colors, and only one color is susceptible to the player’s gun at any given moment. The defended ring, on the other hand, may fall victim to either color enemy. If a non-targetable sphere is closing in, the player has to tap on the ring to switch its mode from one color to the opposite as the situation demands. The longer the player survives, Croma rewards him or her with enemy mixtures that become increasingly difficult to ward off. To go with the extra challenge are temporary powerups that will prove immediately familiar to shoot ’em up fans — spread guns, lasers, helper orbs that assist by blocking incoming objects, etc.

Indeed, those looking for an interesting shoot ’em up experience are most encouraged to check this one out, but the fact that it never quite steps into Bullet Hell Shooter territory leaves it accessible to just about anyone with a mind to try it. As a fully randomized infinite game played for Game Center and OpenFeint bragging rights, Croma seems to yield up most of its secrets pretty quickly though. After the opening tutorial is finished and about ten minutes spent with the game altogether, the player’s seen just about everything the game contains, and only the challenge of stretching out his or her best survival time remains.

Despite the fundamental simplicity of its visuals, Croma absolutely oozes style. The player’s mode shifts are ushered in musically as well as chromatically, leaving its presentation well-varied for however long the player keeps at it. Targetable enemies are crisply defined while non-targetable ones float down in a ghostly haze, which makes for a much appreciated gameplay cue.

iFanzine Verdict: If you’re the type of player who likes to “get into the zone” with something that’s incredibly slick and varies in intensity more than depth, this is a superb title to spend a buck on. If you’re more into games that constantly evolve to include new gameplay elements, on the other hand, the experience is liable to wear thin before long.

[xrr rating=4/5]