iPhone App Review: Headshots AlleyMarch 1st, 2013 by dancemonkey
Fans of vertical-scrolling shooters, 8-bit graphics, and graphic bloody gore should find plenty to love in Headshots Alley, the new arcade shooter from developer Gamewell Games.
Adhering to a thin veneer of a story where some woman is being accosted in the alley outside your apartment, you grab your shotgun and start endless marching down the alley, blowing masked and armed bad guys away as you do. The challenge gets harder the further you progress until you are popping off hip-shots as fast as your little fingers can manage.
Your character moves on his own “up” the screen, or rather the alley scrolls endlessly downward as you continue your march of death and destruction. You shoot by dragging your finger from your avatar and drawing a line to the spot you want to shoot. Your blasts are anatomically “correct”, meaning that depending on your aim you can blast off limbs or heads (hence the title of the game), the body parts falling beside the enemies’ corpses until they both fade away.
Enemies at first slowly walk down the alley towards you, giving you ample time to blow them away before they get within range and take their potshots at you. You have a limited health bar that is depleted whenever they manage to hit you, and as the game progresses the enemies become more numerous and even start taking cover behind obstacles and crossing the alley on the backs of moving flatbed trucks.
Pros And Cons
In case you couldn’t tell from my description so far, the game is violent. I was initially shocked by the violence to be perfectly honest, because it’s not something I was expecting in a game that is clearly a throwback to 80s-era arcade games. Arms and legs (and heads!) are blasted off of bodies in bloody celebration of action-movie carnage, which I think is really the throwback being celebrated here: 80s-era action movies, not the video games per se.
Turning towards the game-play itself, the game is actually quite fun. It’s reminiscent in graphics and game-play mechanics of the simple, almost-but-not-quite one-button charming game-play of developer Donut Games’ offerings. All you have to worry about is keeping an eye out for enemies and being ready with your finger to draw that aiming line and blow them away. The game gets quite challenging as it goes from light to dark (giving you only a short cone of flashlight to see what’s directly in front of you), and enemies start eventually coming out of the woodwork. It’s a pick-up-and-play game for passing time when you don’t feel like thinking to much about the story, or solving puzzles, or calculating trajectories of catapulted birds. You just shoot at things until you die and then start all over again.
Headshots Alley is an extremely violent game, despite its simple gameplay and cute 8-bit presentation. Despite its bloody underpinnings it is an enjoyable and simple game that offers no-thinking-needed fun in a professionally-developed and presented package that’s slick in graphics, sound, and control. If you enjoy 80s graphics and 80s action movies then you may want to give this one a shot.