There are so many firsts in life you don’t forget. Your first kiss, your first Subaru — and certainly your first ride in a chicken walker mech! The Red Thing lent us the keys to the ignition of such a mechanical beast last May, and you can see our report here if you missed it back then. Now that five months have passed and development has entered the home stretch, we’ve had a chance to open the hatch once again and see how things have progressed.

No sooner were we seated behind the steering wheel – or whatever you’d use to control a vehicle like this – than we found several brand spankin’ new features we hadn’t seen in the early beta. The latest build of iDamaged features a curious hybrid of consumable power-ups and inter-level upgrades, wherein the player can trade performance points for increased effectiveness of specific weapon pickups. For example, it appears you’ll get noticeably more ammo for that swanky Double Laser you collected from enemy wreckage if you applied an upgrade to that weapon before starting the level.

Our ride in the mech was way rockier this time around than last, but for a good reason: enemy AI and variety are now fully intact. Playing iDamaged really makes you feel like you’re Godzilla or King Kong, swatting away at bothersome flies that are constantly swarming around to make your day difficult. Nary a moment goes by without some tanks or APCs pulling up to unleash small arms fire (relatively speaking!) at the player’s giant mech. There are some really creative segments where groups of mobile missile launchers close in and get the player dancing back and forth to avoid their descending payloads. Players will really appreciate the challenge of budgeting the mech’s energy shield and gesture-driven calls for backup!

As ever, the big question hanging over iDamaged is the complexity of its interface. Hey, driving one of these things while commanding all its weapons systems wouldn’t be easy even in real life, after all! We’re happy to report that The Red Thing has given the player lots of calibration options, as well as a choice between tilt-to-aim and dragging the mech’s target reticle around with a finger. Not only that, but when we made a couple suggestions after our latest test drive, The Red Thing sent them right off to their engineering department for speedy implementation! This is the kind of service we’d like to see more of at our local car rental shops, that’s for sure.

iDamaged is shaping up to be one of the most immersive and unique arcade-style shoot ’em ups we’ve seen in a while. Here’s a preview reel while you wait for our review and interview with the developer, though keep in mind what’s shown below reflects the five-month-old build we played way back in May, rather than the current build. It’s still a darn good display of the gesture-controlled secondary weapons though!

For the latest news on this intriguing title, keep an eye on The Red Thing’s website and Twitter Feed!