Growing up in the age of Nintendo and MS-DOS systems, I am accustomed to playing games with low res graphics even in these recent times. Enter ZiGGURAT. Taking graphical cues from Gunstar Heroes and similar games of that era, this game will amaze you on how such simplicity can lead to a heart pounding, desperate struggle for your life.
A child of Action Button Entertainment, ZiGGURAT starts near the end of an epic intergalactic war. The premise is simple; you are a lone soldier on top of a raised structure (hence the title “ziggurat”). It’s raining cyclopean aliens and it’s your job to fend them off with your trusty plasma gun. We are not provided much description on why this is all happening but as the App Store blurb highlighted “there is only time to shoot”.
There are two modes to play this game; default choice is called the Precision Mode where you touch an invisible slider (ala Pro Zombie Soccer mechanics) at the bottom of the screen and release to shoot. You can also hold to charge up your gun which sets up a chain reaction for multiple kills. The latter is very useful later in the game where the waves of aliens come at you relentlessly. Second choice is the Slingshot Mode which in my opinion is best unused. I think it was probably included to cater for the hardcore Angry Birds fandom but it’s nowhere as effective compared to Precision Mode. To make things more manageable you can turn on the Aiming Guide to see where your green bullet should fly off to.
If Canabalt is referred to as an endless runner, you can call this an endless shooter with a dash of tower defense. There is only one stage and you just keep on shooting to survive. The minimalist setup doesn’t mean you’ll have an easy time as the difficulty increases with each passing second. You don’t even have the luxury of a pause button! Stressful yet enjoyable enough to go for another round of alien blasting.
ZiGGURAT pays homage to sixteen bit games of yore so I’m sure you know what to expect for the visuals and sounds. I have to give credit for the inclusion of subtle aesthetic touches like a full moon setting, moving clouds and booming explosions. The chiptune soundtrack is one of the finest I’ve heard, with the beeps and bleeps thumping frantically further in the game. Fail and you’ll be greeted to an eerie low fidelity sound which mimics a deathly scream.
In addition you will have detailed statistics to track your progress in the game, leaderboards and connectivity to Facebook and Twitter. It’s satisfying to tweet “Before dying I managed to kill one hundred ninety eight of the alien freaks who killed everyone else”.
I have never stayed alive in Ziggurat more than five minutes. What happens after that? Nobody knows except for game designer Tim Rogers. I dare you to try.