Unicorn Savior, to me, somehow sounds like some sort of unicorn herding simulator or perhaps a fantasy RPG where you save Unicorns from extinction in a far away land, which would be fine and all being in the Mobiles range and all , but what Unicorn Savior actually is will bring a little joy to any gamers’ heart . Oh Yes!
Unicorn Savior, which is available from the Mobile section of the PSN store, is a side scrolling shooter from Studio Iris that many of you will recognise from the genre that was huge in the late 80’s in particular, but while the game looks like an homage to that glorious era you will find a fundamental change that really does drag this game into the 21st century!
Upon starting the game you will be presented with the title screen that doesn’t give anything away as to what this game is about. You have the Help and Options links as well as the option to start a new game or to select a level. Starting a new game will obviously take you through the campaign from the start, while area select gives you the option to play a singe level or to start from that mission and continue on through the game from that point. Options gives you the ability to control music volume, sound volume, graphic quality and the difficulty. There are 2 difficulties to the game, Normal and Hard to suit your taste but changing the graphical quality is something that I couldn’t quite see any benefit in doing, but then my eyes are getting ever older. The help screen offers you advise and hints on how to play the game, and apart from the odd spelling mistake and slightly odd translation it does enough of a job to set you up for what’s ahead.
So then on to the actual game which consists of your character flying through levels, taking down waves of enemies of all shapes and sizes and finally taking down a rather large end of level boss. Sound familiar? Then I shall throw you a couple of curve balls. First off your character does not move around the screen at all! Your character stays completely stationary on the left hand side of the screen as the level plays out before you. Secondly you control your weapons by touching the part of the screen you wish to shoot at, simply tap or hold for a lock on an enemy and you fire your currently selected weapon. There are 4 weapons for you to choose from and they are equipped by tapping the relevant icon on the very left of the screen. You have access to a machine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle and homing missiles. Each weapon can be utilised for different situations to help you on your journey but you do have limited ammo for each and there are no power ups of any sort so weapon management is critical to your success. Because you cannot move your character it is essential to try to eliminate your foes as quickly as possible and learning the patterns that emerge, you are able to shoot projectiles out of your path with the correct weapon which helps to negate the fact that your character does not move out of their way. This will mostly be familiar territory for any veteran gamer. End of level bosses are just as you would expect. Big, Bad and with weak spots that shine like beacons. Each boss has a slightly different tactic to defeating it and again it is simply learning the attack patterns that will get you the best results and this is where Unicorn Saviours longevity will come from and this will vary from player to player.
The controls are extremely simple and are touchscreen based as mentioned above. You choose a weapon from the left hand side of the screen and then you tap where you want to shoot. It is a system that does take a little getting used to at first, but it is well worth the effort!
The graphics are 2D based and not overtly detailed in nature but they are sharp colourful and reminiscent of many of the best sidescrolling shooters. Enemies look and move just as you would expect them to and the bosses themselves take up the vast majority of the screen which again is another staple of the genre. There is much that veteran gamers will remember and appreciate here in the look of the game!
The sound is handled well, as background music offers an eclectic mix of tracks between the different stages. Sound effects are also handled well enough and lend weight to the weapons and enemies you encounter.
My opinion quite simply is that I love the game. I love the modern twist on the side scrolling genre and I love the graphical, musical and gameplay homage to that same genre. It feels just right and it looks just right and the whole package works for me. The only weakness I can level at the game is that it is on the short side. The difficulty can help to off set some of this weakness but when it’s over it is definitely over, but you will have definitely enjoyed it.
My final thought then is that Unicorn Savior is definitely up there with the very best games the Mobiles range has to offer and is an essential purchase for any Vita owner that has any interest in side scrolling shooters past or present. Actually scratch that, just anyone, go now and buy it!
At A Glance
- Title: Unicorn Savior
- Publisher: Studio Iris
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 44Mb