Ziggurat (iOS)

Developed by: Action Button Entertainment
Available on: iOS

People love disclosure.  Ziggurat‘s lead designer helped me buy a cellphone when I first moved to Japan.  He also let me sleep on his couch for a month the second time I moved to Japan.  He eventually gave me that couch.  I’ve also slept on the couch of Ziggurat’s composer.

Reviewing cellphone games has the problem that modern day music reviews have for me.  The investment is so low why bother?  If the game doesn’t have a demo, it has to be less than 4.99.  Everyone’s made terrible decisions that cost more than 4.99.  If you are recommended a cellphone game that ends up being terrible you can at least blame the loss of a future coffee on that jerk.  I sure am mildly intrigued by Square’s efforts into the platform, but I’m also never going to buy them.  I have a 99 cent RPG on my iTouch, but I haven’t touched it.  It scares me.
I also bought that because someone recommended it to me.

In a waiting room yesterday I played my 88th game of Ziggurat.  I’ve had it for the six months I’ve had an iTouch, which isn’t even a cellphone but is certainly a better purchase than a Vita or a 3DS at this point.  It’s an iPhone minus the phone and a different shape because they had to separate the case market.  Ziggurat is still the the game I play when nothing is going to happen for the next five minutes.

You never move from the top.

In this 88th game of Ziggurat the sun was beginning to set, I suddenly thought about X-Men 2 for the Genesis.  That game features a pretty wonderfully weird explosion sound effect whenever an enemy dies.  The enemies in ZGGRT feature a pretty similar explosion sound effect if you manage to hit them in their expanding-contracting eye.  If you manage to hit them in the leg they don’t explode and tumble down the mountain.

To shoot them you hold your finger on the screen and move it horizontally.  There is no vertical (everyone I make try it doesn’t hear this part.)   Continue to touch the screen and your shot charges, however your maximum power shot comes from holding for about three seconds.  Past that and it goes to about 70% of potential size.  You’re never just holding the button down because that’s the thing to do (like say, Mega Man.)

If a bullet or an alien-robot touches you, you die.  That’s the only way the game ends.  It then and only then tells you how many of the alien-freaks you killed that killed everyone else.  It’s like running a mile, or doing anything with someone else holding a stop watch.  You are breathless, tired, and look at the other person, “How’d I do?”  A death scream is the only way the game ever ends.  Reading things about the game, and examining the ????  on the stat screen tells me that the game keeps introducing new elements to try and stop your last stand.

Thought went into every aspect of this (tiny) game.   The arch of the bullets, how  difficulty ramps up, everything had someone thinking, “How do I want this.”  Ziggurat is thoughtful.  It is a razor sharp realization of a game idea.  It’s 99 cents.  Buying it at worst lets you justifiably call me a jerk for not enjoying an experience that I have enjoyed for six months and continue to.


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