iPhone App Video Review: Boss Battles

by Andrew Koziara

Boss Battles is the latest outing from Backflip Studios. It's a vertical shooter which strips away the common idea of "levels' in favor of jumping right into the boss battle action, more or less. It's a cool idea, but it doesn't quite work out the way you'd hope.

The game doesn't actually skip straight to the boss battles, as there is always a very short and necessary bit of level in which you farm throw-away enemies and obstacles for diamonds, the game’s currency. After surviving that bit, you'll get to the boss. The only way to truly beat a boss is to beat it on the fifth tier of difficulty, which each boss has. The levels and boss fights get legitimately more challenging from tier to tier, and there is definitely a sense of progression and balance. The controls for this game are as simple as can be. You just drag and shoot. When you die, be careful, as you decide where your ship spawns based on where your finger is, so stay out of the line of fire.

In between battles, you can use diamonds to upgrade your four weapons, several attachment pods, or increase your count of extra lives or "ships" in this case. You can buy more diamonds through in-app purchases, but this really isn't necessary. It's really simple to figure out how to farm a bit of cash, and it doesn't take very long at all. You just need to have some patience. Even though some weapons and pods seem useless, most bosses have a specific combination that they are exceedingly weak against. This is where most of the strategy in the game comes from.

The game mixes 2D art with 3D backgrounds, and it looks quite good. The bullets could be a bit more obvious though, as they can be hard to track through dozens of diamonds and your own fire. The small written blurbs and bit of dialogue all show the games sense of humor, and I like the insect and animal based bosses. My favorite is easily the Russian grizzly bear. The main problem with this game is that the boss battles aren't that strong, and can feel very simple. But for the expensive price point of totally free, there's no reason not to give this game a try.

Unfortunately, you'll have to deal with banner advertisements on the play screen. The ads are all for other Backflip Studio games, like Ninjump and Army of Darkness: Defense, which made me want to forgive them, but they often change mid battle and can prove to be great distractions. Still, while it’s not a great game, it's definitely good, and I really enjoyed it overall.

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