Design Patterns for Shmups on iPhone/iPod Touch

I always thought that shmups  should feature a high degree of control, after all, who wouldn’t appreciate sticky controls in a middle of a firefight, avoding both bullets and enemy craft at the same time.

Having said that, I would also think that there’s a particular challenge when it comes to creating shmups for the iPhone. First things first, there’s no physical keypad to take advantage of, and secondly, all you have is a touch screen which, by touching it, obscures the screen from the player. The latter, in my humble opinion, is a particular nuisance that shmup fans can do without.


iFighter manage to circumnavigate both problems by taking advantage of the iPhone/iPod Touch’s accelerometer. With simple twists of your wrist, you get to move your plane similar to how you would move it using a directional pad. The game also introduced auto-fire, which pretty much frees up the player to concentrate on flying the plane through heavy enemy fire.

On the other hand, Glandarius Wing Strike attempts to bring old school shmups (with some weird-ass controls to boot) kicking and screaming to the iPhone platform. In order to move the plane, players are required to tap left or right of the screen. By doing so, players are limited to just moving left and right, and yes, putting a finger on the screen prevents you from viewing potential bustups and avoiding silly deaths.


The game’s weapons system also deserves comment, you only get to fire at enemies when you move left or right. Staying still to lock on to opponents using the secondary weapon doesn’t help much when  you are getting fired at.

Two different approaches to shmups, but I’m preferring the former (plus it has bombs!). What about you?

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