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Platform: iPhone/iPod
Category: Action Games

ZiGGURAT is an endless action game for iOS, developed by Action Button Entertainment and published by Freshuu. It captures the spirit of hardcore, adrenaline-pumping games of an earlier era in gaming while still being designed with the modern era in mind. Sprite art, parallax-scrolling backgrounds, and chiptune music blend beautifully with single-finger control, achievements, leaderboards, and Twitter and Facebook integration. You control humanity's last survivor, standing atop a ziggurat and defending Earth until the aliens completely.


If you don't like pixelated sprites, you're not going to like ZiGGURAT. I, however, loved the graphics. The sprites themselves were good but nothing amazing while the backgrounds are awesome. The design choice is fantastic: Rather than a dead-end, the final survivor finds herself (it's not clear whether it's a man or a woman) standing atop a stepped pyramid-like structure called a ziggurat. There's nowhere to run as she's already standing at the peak of the world with aliens coming from all sides. In the background, you can see the sun setting on Earth both figuratively and literally as well as the eventual progression of the destruction of the world. The chiptunes music fits the frantic, last-stand feelings that I find in myself as I try my best to survive.


The mechanics are rather deep for what seems like such a simple game. Aliens bound up the ziggurat toward the survivor. You aim by sliding your finger along the bottom of the screen. If you touch just to the right of the survivor, she'll aim almost vertically. The farther to the right you touch, the lower she'll aim until she's aiming straight down the side of the ziggurat while your finger is in the bottom-right corner. As you hold your finger, the gun will charge, dealing a bigger blast. However, once it reaches its peak, it'll lose its power. You can't just charge the gun and hold that charge; you have to use it once you charge it! When you shoot an alien in the eye, it'll explode, taking out nearby aliens. To do well, you'll need to combine this with the charging technique. It seems a bit peculiar at first, but the control-scheme grew on me. I'm still not 100% accurate with it, but I'm getting there.

While the game is endless, there's definitely a progression too. In the beginning the aliens will come slowly. As they come in larger waves, new types of aliens will come to kill you. Huge aliens, shielded aliens, flying saucers - they're all there. More varieties will follow. Some aliens will come at you low while others will try to jump on you. Gunfire will come from all sides. Luckily, you can eliminate incoming attacks by shooting them or engulfing them in explosions from shooting other aliens.

At some point, you'll die. When you do, you're told just how many aliens you managed to kill before dying and are given the ability to post about it on Twitter or Facebook. "Before dying, I managed to kill one hundred forty-three of the alien freaks who killed everybody else." Straight to the point. Achievements give you some additional tasks, but like any classic arcade game loving gamer, the leaderboards are my passion. I just wish I could climb higher.


Eventually you'll die. This is inevitable in life and in Ziggurat. What counts is how many aliens you take out before you're killed. Ziggurat reminds you at every turn that the clock is ticking on your life. Maybe it's a metaphor for life itself, but if it is, it's a metaphor for something living a defensive, ruthless life. What I know for sure is that Ziggurat is a great action game that sucks me in for long periods of time but is still great even if I only have a couple minutes. It seems like Action Button Entertainment tried to keep it as clean and precise as possible. There are no needless scenes or extra content. Everything in it needs to be there. I highly recommend you pick it up for $0.99 on the App Store.

If you feel like competing with me on the leaderboards, feel free to add me on Game Center. "MRDEVEE" is my account name, and yes, that's a Blue Dragon reference.


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