Two-stick arcade shooters have become very popular since the advent of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on Xbox LIVE Arcade. The pick up and play nature of such games happens to be very well suited to the iPhone gaming philosophy of accessible and immediate experiences. In iDracula you take control of a guy with a cool hat and a nifty pair of boots, with the sole aim being to shoot as many of the incoming monsters as possible before they spoil your fun.
Instead of two sticks as you'd get in console shooters of this type, there are some circles on the touch screen that act like analogue sticks would, moving your character with the left, and aiming the selected weapon with the right. While this is certainly a viable interpretation of traditional two-stick action, a lack of tactile feedback leaves you disconnected and not fully in control. Another disadvantage of using the touch screen is that your thumbs take up a small portion of it, enough to block your view of some of the oncoming enemies that might take you by surprise, but not enough to ruin a good run.
There are two main game modes, survival and rush, both of which pit you against waves of enemies for you to deal with. The differences are in pacing and depth. Rush drops you straight into some heavy action with at least a dozen monsters attacking you at any time, and an always fully loaded mini-gun to greet them with. Survival makes the game more interesting by slowing things down and adding depth to the experience through the availability of new weapons, a variety of enemies and a perks system that lets you choose from four random upgrades at intervals during the game.
The iPhone is starting to hit its stride, with developers figuring out the visual capabilities of the device, and iDracula is a great example of this. Imagine a top down view on your typical Castlevania game, and that’s a pretty accurate representation of the Gothic aesthetic - the game looks brilliant on iPhone’s high resolution screen and the animation is surprisingly proficient.
iDracula is mostly limited by the iPhone platform, in that the touch screen is not ideal for this kind of game. It also doesn’t manage to escape the shallow nature of the genre, but when you're getting such a competent execution of it on a portable platform at the current price of £0.59, it’s easy to overlook these relatively insignificant issues in favour of what constitutes a leading example of pocket gaming.