Late last week Cat in a Box Games was kind enough to send us a review code for their new game FASTAR!, for the iPhone. Looking at the iTunes page for the game, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I liked the (hopefully) intentional spelling errors and light-hearted take on a classic fantasy RPG style, but I had no idea how the game would play. I installed the game on my new iPhone 4 (I love my new iPhone 4) over the weekend, and found myself immersed in a world of fast gameplay and evil geometry.
FASTAR! (Fight Angry Squares: The Action RPG!) doesn’t have much of a story to it, which I suppose has its advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that there’s no investment in a non-existent story. The advantage is that the game is meant to be played quickly, for the most part, and the lack of a story supports that. There is a decent amount of character customization available for the player. The features can’t be changed, but hair, skin, jacket, shirt, and pants colors can all be changed using a gradient scale, allowing for a ridiculous number of color combinations. The gameplay is smooth and very easy to pick up, especially with the “Learn to Play” mode that walks you through a beginner-difficulty level (approximately two minutes long). There are three other regular gameplay modes: Easy (The proving grounds for newcomers – approx. 4 minutes), Normal (The classic FASTAR! experience – approx. 8 minutes), and Hard (Bigger map. Badder baddies. – approx. 15 minutes). The game is a side-scroller, and the objective of the three regular gameplay modes (Easy/Normal/Hard) is to cross the level as quickly as possible. You are scored on the speed with which you complete the levels, not on the number of enemies destroyed, amount of money acquired, or levels earned. As you defeat enemy squares, you earn coins, which can then be spent in town to restore health, upgrade your attack rating, or upgrade your defense rating. At the beginning of the level, you are able to select from a grid of nine spells of varying effect. Once a spell is used, it regenerates. Once your bar is full, you can use the spell again (some spells have multiple charges, some have single charges). As the difficulty increases, more strategy is required in which spell you choose, how you spend your coins, and how you attack your enemies.
One might look at that and say that a tutorial and three difficulty levels would be enough for a quick iPhone game. FASTAR!, however, provides so much more, in the form of an additional 20 game modes:
- Profit – How much money can you make in five minutes? (Difficulty: Greed Based, Average Time: 8 minutes)
- Battlemage – You get two spells, but upgrades are pricey. (Difficulty: Crafty, Average Time: 8 minutes)
- No Excuses – Nothing is random. (Difficulty: Regular, Average Time: 12 minutes)
- Showdown – Nothing but you and 25 enemies. (Difficulty: Wild, Average Time: 1 minute)
- Goliath – A gauntlet of giant squares – and no healing. (Difficulty: Huge, Average Time: 15 minutes)
- Sudden Death – Not for the faint of heart! (Difficulty: Harsh, Average Time: 5 minutes)
- Marathon – A long, long journey. (Difficulty: Obsessive, Average Time: 60 minutes)
- Arena – Infinite enemies await. How long will you last? (Difficulty: @#!, Average Time: ???)
- 12 color based modes where all enemies are one type (Grey Gauntlet, Beige Bash, Blue Attack, Green Gamut, Yellow Hell, Orange Crush, Purple Pound, Pink Pummel, Cyan Alley, Red Conquest, Black Brawl, White Fight) (Difficulty: Steep, Average Time: 7 minutes)
Released July 30, FASTAR! normally goes for $1.99, but is currently on sale for $0.99. There are worse things you could do with your dollar than spend it on a genuinely fun game.
-[insert FIAR! here]