The iPhone makes a great gaming platform, don’t get me wrong. And the popularity of iOS has created a kind of renaissance of handheld gaming. That much is certain. The problem is that many-- maybe most-- developers don’t understand that making a successful game for iOS means working within the limitations of the device. Too many on-screen buttons? A deal breaker. Confusing three-dimensional accelerometer controlled movement? I want my 99 cents back.
Thankfully, LastStandStan is a game that gets it right. When the game begins, we see our spacecraft in a top-down view, reminiscent of old Reagan-era shooters like Asteroid. Tap anywhere on the screen, and your ship will fire its weapon in that direction. Tap the ship, and you get to select various weapons, shields, and assorted power-ups. That’s all there is to it.
Except, that isn’t all there is to it. Moments after the game begins, enemy space craft will come towards your ship from all directions, and it is your task-- nay, duty-- to destroy each and every last one of them. While this might sound like mindless, trigger-happy work, it actually takes a fair amount of strategic thinking. When you have limited ammunition, and three ships heading towards you at different speeds, with different shields, and presenting different dangers, you have to make quick, on-the-fly decisions about which one to tackle first. But don’t worry: LastStandStan still has plenty of trigger-happy gun battles.
LastStandStan looks just right, too. The graphics are cartoonish, in a good way. There are lots of bright twinkling things and solid fields of color. Each weapon creates its own fireworks display, and the explosions of enemy ships are a pleasure to behold. The developer has also done a nice job making these spaceships stand out from the iconic spaceships of other games. The player’s ship, the “Po’Trubian defender,” kind of resembles a Jules Verne-era diving suit, except with more guns.
If you cocked your head a little at reading the word “Po’Trubian,” you likely already figured out a drawback of the game: it’s a little bit too concerned with its own mythology and backstory. I doubt very many players will have the patience to sit through the opening cut scenes, or even bother to remember that the Po’Trubians are the good guys and the Sleevils are the evil invaders from another world. The developer likely hoped all these details would help LastStandStan attain a cult following, or maybe even sell film rights like Angry Birds or Doodle Jump. Don’t hold your breath for that.
Another slight drawback has to do with monotony of game play. While there are enough different weapons and enemies to keep your attention, it would be nice to be able to move the ship around once in a while. Even Asteroid allowed the player to clumsily dodge asteroids that were too big to blow up in one or two shots. Movement would complicate the controls, certainly, but it would also add a much-needed dimension to play.
Looking past these flaws, LastStandStan is still a fun game that does what it sets out to do. LastStandStan is recommended for casual gamers and fans of arcade-style shooters, new and old.