App of the day: Roundhouse review (iPhone)
Roundhouse is a two-dimensional beat-'em-up game reminiscent of the glory days of gaming: think of a flatter, zanier version Streets of Rage for the iPhone and you'll have some idea what to expect from this kickin' app.
It all begins on stage, guitar in hand, where Roundhouse is performing a show with his band. Rock star backdrop and a guitar riffs soundtrack that whiff of a vintage 80s camembert and the scene (for the whole game) is set.
Fans clamour on stage and swift-footed Roundhouse is soon kicking his way - initially in what appears to be an arguably misogynistic fashion, a tone which soon changes - to keep some stage space for himself. This irks the stage manager - a giant, overweight chap - who acts as the boss character and needs to be dispatched with not only a lot more kicks but more intelligently by deflecting attack projectiles.
The game teaches you how to play step by step in order the get the most out of it. A directional pad sits to the left, next to kick and jump buttons to the right. It's almost like a NES controller, arcade in style, but not as easy to control because of the slip-sliding nature of an iPhone touchscreen.
Combinations of jump kicks, crouching kicks and repeat combo kicks can be used to get enemies down and out quicker than waiting for them to get back up. Trickier enemies will jump, attack and even shoot from range as the levels advance - here you'll need to use dodging tactics, including surrounding objects such as tables and cars, to get out of the line of fire. Boss characters, too, get tougher to avoid until you learn their processes.
Although it can be tricking to position Roundhouse accurately on the screen all the time for the optimum kick, this ensures the game remains tricky. Perhaps none too difficult at first, but by the third level's boss you'll feel the need to keep coming back to prove your worth. Oh, and this is after defeating a giant taco. Yeah, Roundhouse is fairly nuts to say the least.
Each hit from an enemy detracts a point of health from Roundhouse's left-aligned power bar. Hearts appear throughout the levels' arenas from time to time which you'll need to grab hold of to top up to full health again. Get knocked down to zero health and it's game over - out for the count - and you'll need to replay an individual level from the beginning again.
There's not quite the depth here as a classic like Streets Of Rage, but Roundhouse's nod to that era is a fun take on a classic genre, while its comic book style and crazy, gonzo storyline make for a fun kick 'em up app - so long as you don't read into it all too much.