Disastrous news, everyone, an alien invasion of vile creatures — known only as Brainlings — has touched down on Earth, in the process abducting every last parent to be found! However — fear not — for the undaunted Nate, and his Super Wicked Extreme Emergency Team (S.W.E.E.T.), are on the job to blast every last one of those jar-brained aliens back to where they belong! Thus goes the premise to Nelvana’sTurret Alert (out now, $1.99), a light gun style game based on the selfsame company’s children’s animated TV series: Oh No! It’s an Alien Invasion!
For those of you whom aren’t actually familiar with the related TV show — which is likely, since the show was only aired in Canada — the game does, upon your initial play session, run a trailer for the TV series. While the trailer feels more like a “last episode” segment, rather than what you’d normally expect from an advertisement for a movie or TV series, it does — however — do a good job of establishing the theme of the universe. That said, understanding Oh No! It’s an Alien Invasion!’s ins-and-outs is more or less irrelevant to the context of Turret Alert’s game play (that is otherwise entirely centered around classical arcade concepts).
Anyways, your job is to protect your mall base — which has recently become not exactly quite so secret — as Briiian and his army of Brainlings attempt to overrun your defenses, all in an effort to end your S.W.E.E.T. rebellion. In order to do this you’ll travel from location to location — much like in Light Gun classics, such as Virtua Cop or House of the Dead — as you quickly blast every last Brainling, all while nullifying their incoming shots. By the way, the generic grunt Brainlings — of which you’ll spend the bulk of your time plowing through — bare a strong resemblance, in both appearance and mannerisms, to the Minions in Despicable Me.
In Turret Alert you have precisely one action with which to obliterate every last Brainling present: tapping the screen in order to let loose a barrage of alien blasting goodness (with the form of destruction being based on your current weapon). You can either directly tap each alien — leading to their instant defeat, unless that unit also has health reserves — or draw a line across many targets, unleashing a combo that wastes everything upon release. Taking out multiple targets at once will further drive up your multiplier — maximizing your points earned — but will also cause the targets near the end of your combo to be the last ones hit, which can sometimes be disastrous when dealing with incoming bullets.
When you begin the game your chosen hero will only be capable of taking a single hit before they die, so making sure you don’t let any of the enemy projectiles slip through will always be of the utmost importance. However, each hero also has a character specific experience bar that — with each Brainling blasted — will slowly fill up until the hero permanently receives an additional heart (up to a maximum of three). The player can furthermore raise a character’s maximum mess-up potential to a grand total of four if they use the Pocket Protector booster item, found in the list of available pre-mission boosters.
The other way a player can die is if they ever touch — or even drag their finger over — any lit bombs whenever they appear, which otherwise will never actually explode on their own. These bombs — which can either be moving or stationary — help to ensure that there’s more to Turret Alert than merely dragging your finger all over the place as quickly as possible, and are something that you will come to hate with a deep passion. Although these bombs are easily avoided by attacking your targets with carefully placed single tap shots, this will of course cause you to miss out on lucrative combo scoring potential in the process.
Dropped by blasted Brainlings — destroyed crates — and floating balloons will be gold and silver coins, which can be collected whenever the player slides their finger over top of them. Although coins never disappear on their own, the player’s hero will move on – leaving any as of yet uncollected coins behind — the exact moment that every enemy and bullet in the current area is finally gone. Players will have to be careful when they rush to collect coins — however — as item balloons may sometimes instead drop a bomb when hit, resulting in a bomb being precariously close the same location as the player’s finger.
All of these coins can then either be spent to unlock additional characters — each of whom have their own personal arsenals to select from — to purchase and/or upgrade weapons in your selected hero’s arsenal, and to even purchase single use boosters. These boosters include items that can speed up the game — temporarily slow enemies down — enable your current hero to take an additional point of damage, or eradicate everyone a single time. By the way, the latter guns in each hero’s arsenal will be faster — enabling them to move much more quickly from target to target — as well as be more ludicrous (e.g.: meatball gun), and upgrading them with coins will cause them to do additional damage per shot.
Now this might be where you’d expect me to talk about how the prices to unlock things — and then to additionally upgrade them — are all way too high, and how the only way anyone could ever truly afford the boosters were if they straight up IAP acquired them. However — you’d be wrong — for there aren’t any IAP options to be found within Turret Alert whatsoever, all as part of Nelvana’s guarantee to ensure that their game is 100% child friendly. Turret Alert is instead a game that merely happens to contain the various collecting/upgrading elements that have often proven attractive to mobile owning children, yet all without the exploitative baggage for which they are normally designed.
Anyways — with all of the game mechanics now covered — I’m here to say that this game gets hard fast, but in that old school sense where you’ll find yourself constantly crawling back for seconds. In fact, they’re so proud of the difficulty — which they feel harkens back to when all kids’ games were rather hard — that they’ve offered to give the first 25 people to finish the game, all without getting hit, a free copy of every game they’ve ever made! If you were hoping for a mobile exclusive game — that properly paid homage to the likes of House of the Dead, Confidential Mission, Time Crisis, or even Virtua Cop — all with a bright and colorful kid safe theme, then Turret Alert is one game that you shouldn’t miss!
The easily frustrated — however — might want to pass this one up, as Turret Alert truly is a game where you’ll find yourself constantly staring at the Game Over screen tallying up how your current failed attempt compared to your previous high score.
iFanzine Verdict: With tight controls, a in-grained risk vs. reward mechanic for those seeking high scores, and a bright and colorful presentation — complete with a kid safe lack of IAPs — Turret Alert is a brilliantly hard homage to old school light gun games. For those who miss the nineties’ golden age of light gun classics — such as House of the Dead, Virtua Cop, or Time Crisis — as well as the times when games were filled with whimsy, rather than depressing grim-dark grays, Turret Alert will be pure bliss. The only downside — for those whom don’t absolutely devour this type of gaming action — is that the game’s difficulty might actually become a turn off, as it will take numerous failures before the player will ever have any hope of staving off Briiian’s invasion.