One of the Ten Commandments of Gaming states that Bullet Hell is Awesome: projectiles flying all over the shop, things constantly exploding, over-the-top heavy metal soundtrack with wailing solo; what’s not to like?
Phoenix HD proved that western developers are capable of producing top-notch bullet hell fun for mobiles and tablets, but Heli Hell... *sigh* Can you see where I’m going with this?
At one end of the spectrum, we have DoDonPachi Resurrection, a “proper” (I hate to use that word, but just bear with me) game with levels and bosses and a story and an entirely justifiable £9.99 entry fee. It’s freakin’ awesome.
Then we have Phoenix HD, which is more tailored towards the mobile generation, as it’s free to play, but with perfectly pitched in-app purchases if you fancy unlocking the other ships. It’s also great – essentially a bullet hell endless runner.
Sticking firmly in the mobile camp with seemingly little care for actual quality, is Heli Hell. What the Heli Hell? It’s like the developers had just finished reading the How to Make a Freemium Game handbook. Everything about it screams: “GIVE ME MONEY!” No, Heli Hell, I will not give you a penny, and I’m about to tell you why. After this screenshot.
Where to begin tearing Heli Hell to pieces? Ok, there are the various menu screens, for starters. The navigation is utterly baffling, and for some reason the developers have opted to use a whole ton of meaningless icons that you’re left to decipher on your own.
And the controls. Good gawd, the controls. Heli Hell asks you to drag the helicopter around using your finger, which occasionally obscures the action, and ultimately feels uncomfortable. Why no tilt option?
The obligatory shop presents a major headache, too, as it quickly becomes clear that everything is ludicrously expensive, and in order to make any significant progress, you’ll have to get your wallet out. Idea: why not make a decent game and just slap a price tag on it? Yeah, I know you’ll make more money this way, but where’s the passion? The balls?
Oh, and not forgetting the actual gameplay. While DoDonPachi and Phoenix HD opt for traditional bullet patterns and whatnot, Heli Hell chooses to throw a whole ton of crud at you that’s nigh on impossible to avoid.
Maybe I’m taking my freemium frustrations out on Heli Hell unfairly, but I really did not enjoy this. To be fair, the US App Store listing reveals an average 4.5/5 rating, so, y’know, try it at your own risk, I guess.
- The menus
- The controls
- The difficulty
- The ridiculous prices in the shop
Summary: Having played DoDonPachi Resurrection and Phoenix HD, my standards are – and my expectations were, admittedly – high. Alas, this Heli Hell thing doesn’t deserve to hang with the bullet hell boys. Shun.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.