Suddenly — without warning — Earth has come under attack by an evil race of alien robots, and the only way for us to strike back is by reverse engineering their Bits ’n Bobs (which is obviously a highly technical term). Players — by collecting enough of the opposition’s internal sprockets — will eventually unlock access to an ever expanding arsenal, as well as warp to new locations via the enemy’s portals. Thus goes the setup to Groundskeeper 2 (out now $1.99), the latest offering by Orange Pixel — a company well known for high-octane action — and can best be described as a Sci-Fi rendition of Slayin’ (our review).
Groundskeeper 2 utilizes a virtual control scheme that — although a bit more complicated than the one found in Slayin’ — aims to keep things immediately understandable, so that players may jump right in without first slogging through any tutorials. On the screen’s left hand side are the left and right movement buttons, whereas the jump and fire buttons — with the latter shooting continuously while pressed — can be found on the opposite end. Although this setup will probably at first make you think that Groundskeeper 2 is a side scrolling adventure, all of the game’s action actually takes place across various — horizontally aligned — single screen arenas.
Furthermore — despite what the jump button’s existence might seem to suggest — this game also lacks any platforms to deal with, instead only being used to occasionally leap over incoming projectiles. For the most part all of these controls work flawlessly, but you will sometimes find yourself having trouble accurately switching from shooting over to jumping when you need to avoid incoming rockets. While Groundskeeper 2 does actually feature an option that allows you to fully reposition these buttons however you desire, it is still worth noting that the jump button can be tricky to reach under the default layout.
It will — within each arena — be the player’s mission to collect the number of Bits ’n Bobs required to open up the next portal; which will not only transport them to a randomized area, but fully recharges their health as well. While it takes an entire fifty sprockets to force open the first warp gate, every one after that comes with each 25 additional pieces (thus ensuring that the player is never too far away from their next full health restore). This is definitely a good thing too, as the sheer amount of chaos taking place on screen — at given particular moment — is easily far too much for mere mortals to endure for any prolonged period of time.
Other than merely opening up constant get away portals, reaching specific sprocket milestones — with your stash resetting to zero each and every time you fail — will further grant access to new weapons and arena locations. Although players will have to dig deep in order to initially gain access to each new bauble, all future play throughs will make these additional elements available straight from the get go. Through this manner players will eventually gain access to a wide array of body armors, jet packs, laser guns, rocket launchers, and other assorted implements of mechanical alien devastation.
Thankfully — despite any growing fears you might be starting to have — these vital content unlocking sprockets are obtained purely via your own skill, with absolutely no IAPs to be found anywhere within Groundskeeper 2 at all. Whenever you find yourself constantly failing to reach the next arsenal expanding milestone, which will often happen far more than you might like, you will always know that it was due to a 100% honest challenge. With IAPs having sadly become the norm in mobile design trends, it’s always nice to see a company take the high road by not compromising their game’s enjoyability just so that they can give players a shakedown.
Speaking of game design, Groundskeeper 2 — much like any other game that Orange Pixel has ever blessed upon the iOS — is a veritable non-stop tour-de-force session of low-res alien-blasting action. Those searching for an arcade-style experience — wherein your sole objective is to strive for ever more amazing high scores — will certainly find everything they could have possibly desired here, even with the somewhat tricky nature of jumping. Although this game isn’t necessarily for the easily frustrated, since players are — early on — forced to reach an entire 100 Bits ’n Bobs (all within a single run) before they are granted access to any of Groundskeeper 2’s defensive power-ups.
While definitely lacking an ending in the traditional sense, a percentage meter on Groundskeeper 2’s main menu helps to keep track of just how much game content a player has fully unlocked. Although mastering the game’s various basics should prove to be fairly easy, managing to push all the way to a full one thousand Bits ’n Bobs – in the process becoming the ‘true hero of the revolution’ — is certainly far from an easy feat. Therefore, those of you whom are tired of blowing through most mobile games — sometimes mere days after purchasing them – will certainly have nothing to fear here, as winning this fight is going to be an epic haul that should keep you busy for many months.
Finally — game play matters aside — Groundskeeper 2 keeps well alive Orange Pixel’s tradition of delivering all of their games in a high quality low-res format, although you might not find yourself able to appreciate it as much during this particular escapade. Things are literally so fast and furious that most of the time you’ll be lunging just to avoid anything that exists, and even spraying lead indiscriminately in a direction merely because there was something moving. Far more appreciable — though — has to be the fully voiced cut scenes (which play whenever a new feature is unlocked for the first time), all of which knowingly revel in the deliberately paper-thin nature of the game’s premise.
iFanzine Verdict: With endless alien blasting action — high quality low res graphics — and a snarky self awareness directed at the game’s paper thin plot, Groundskeeper 2 is a title that should definitely please classic arcade fans. The extremely heavy handed nature of the game’s early portions, however, do mean that those whom are easily frustrated might not ever last long enough to unlock any of the vital defense items. However, this extreme difficulty is thankfully a test of pure challenge — rather than one of greed — since there are absolutely no IAPs to be found within Orange Pixel’s latest offering.