Friday, June 8, 2012

Zaga 33 [Michael Brough] - $0.99

Casual games are a kind of staple of AppStore gaming, especially games that have basically endless replay value and are easy to learn, hard to master. However, within this large group of casual titles lies games that are somewhat more ‘hardcore’, appealing more to veteran gamers than most of the casual games available. Michael Brough’s roguelike title, Zaga 33, happens to be one of these games. For those of you familiar with the latest PC or Mac versions of Zaga 33, you’ll be extremely happy to know that the iOS version is basically a direct port. Scoot the controls over to a touch screen, and viola. 

As for those of you who are not familiar with Zaga 33, the whole goal of the game is to get your character, the “@”, through 25 levels of alien filled dungeon rooms, finally winding up at the Alien Cortex, and then defeating it. Now, that might sound all well and good, but what makes the game appeal to more ‘hardcore’ gamers is that it’s the perfect example of a well thought-out, and perfectly executed roguelike title. Randomized room designs, turn-based movement, perma-death (no continues), and every power-up you grab is also randomized, meaning whenever you start a new game, you never really know what items do what until you try them out. 
Each time you move your character, all of the enemies within the room will take their move as well. You are able to attack the various enemies, but with each attack, you have the chance of being attacked yourself, and with only 9 hit points, if you find yourself surrounded by 3 enemies, you could wind up dead in 3 moves. You do regain 1 hit point each time you move on to the next room, and there are healing pick ups which give you full health, but since it’s all random, there’s no telling when you’ll be able to find one of these pick ups, or how the enemies in the next room are going to be set up, so most of the time, it’s just best to avoid the enemies at all cost.

There are two control methods for Zaga 33, one lets you touch a spot on the map to move, while the other lets you swipe in the direction you’d like to go. The game also auto-orientates to however you’re holding your device, so portrait and landscape modes are supported. The graphics are done in a fantastic green/purple/red sci-fi retro scheme, and the music is wonderful, adding a ton to the atmospheric feeling of the game. 
Each game takes about 5-10 minutes, or even less, which makes Zaga 33 a perfect mobile title. Unfortunately, there is no GameCenter support, which means no leader boards, and no achievements. It would be great to have boards for how quickly you can defeat the Cortex, and even just a handful of achievements would have been a nice addition. But this doesn’t really take anything away from the game. It still gives players the drive to make it to the end, over and over again, trying to better their score by even just one point. 

With Zaga 33 being a faithful port of the PC/Mac title, and only priced at $0.99 while being Universal, and quite possibly being the best roguelike title in the AppStore, it’s a must buy for fans of the genre, casual gamers looking for a challenge and even the most hardcore gamers just looking for a quick fix. Michael Brough’s Zaga 33 is a classic, and the iOS gaming community is lucky to have it available for their devices. Hopefully it becomes as much of an iOS classic as it is on the PC+Mac. I’d love to see more from Mr. Brough. It’s easy to tell that tons of energy, work, thought, care and love has gone into both Zaga 33, and his other iOS title, Glitch Tank, and developers with that much passion deserve loads of support. Here’s hoping both titles get the attention that they most definitely deserve.

**Be sure and check out more games from Michael Brough at**


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