Roswell Fighter Reloaded is a good, old-fashioned vertically scrolling shoot em up. It wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn’t try to hide the fact that it takes its inspiration from arcade classics like 1942 or Flying Shark.
Everything about the game is a love letter to old shooters – it’s almost like the last two decades of gaming never happened. There are no complicated scoring systems to learn or complex narrative structure that changes depending on your choices. It’s just shoot, shoot, shoot and kill or be killed. In every sense, Roswell Fighter Reloaded is a real blast from the past.
Graphics look brilliant and really do transport you back to the arcade games of the late 80s. Sure, they might not look much by today’s standards, but they are small, beautifully drawn and nicely detailed. The images look crisp and clear and, whatever terrain you are travelling over, the aliens and their bullets are easy to spot. I miss the days of the simple sprite-based shooters, and Roswell Fighter Reloaded gives you a chance to travel back in time for a while.
The music is another throwback to the 90s arcade games, with a good old-fashioned chip tune replacing the swelling orchestral score found in most modern games. Explosions are a little disappointing (partly because if you settle for the default options, they are drowned out by the music) but they do their job
Initially, the game appears rather easy but whilst it doesn’t offer a massive challenge the early levels are there to lull you into a false sense of security. After a while, the action really ramps up. Aliens become more aggressive, bigger and more numerous and it takes a lot of skill to survive on later levels. Good old-fashioned power ups will help you win the day, though and there’s nothing more satisfying than annihilating aliens in a seriously tooled up ship. Throw in some impressive boss fights and it’s clear this is a shoot em up made by people who love shoot em ups. It might not do anything special or new, but it executes the formula perfectly.
The pacing is relentless, with aliens coming at you thick and fast. On some levels, it seems almost impossible that there is a safe path through, but there always is. Roswell Fighter Reloaded might get tough, but it’s never unfair. Even when you die, there’s no pause in the action: your plane instantly re-spawns and you have to fight on straight away.
It’s a good job, then that your plane is so responsive. It’s moved around simply by tracing your finger along the screen. Firing is handled automatically, although you can decide when to deploy certain special weapons by pressing an icon. The variety of extra weapons adds a lot of fun and it’s hugely satisfying (and a great stress buster) when you decimate the alien hordes by using one at just the right time.
For the sake of balance, I’m trying to think of something negative to say. It’s proving difficult, because whilst Roswell Fighter Reloaded is a simple little game, it’s also a joy to play. Probably the biggest criticism is its longevity. There are only 11 levels and, despite the increasing difficulty level, most gamers will not have much trouble in getting to the end. Even then there’s always the challenge of going back to get the maximum 3 stars per level (which is genuinely tough). I can only tell you this: the game is so much fun that even now, when I can pretty much beat it every time, I still fire it up occasionally when I want to relieve some stress.
It’s a shame, then, that it no longer appears to be available from the App Store and isn’t compatible with newer iOS devices because on my older device it’s second only to Gridrunner when I fancy a bit of blasting action.