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Icarus-X

Blast into space and spray enemy planes with bullets.

Icarus-X has some great features going for it as a shoot-'em-up: touch-based controls, 3D backgrounds, intense techno stage music, and, of course, hectic fast-paced bullet-hell gameplay. Users must take out waves of enemy planes and alien ships that throw everything from spiraling bullet patterns to kamikaze attacks while staying alive. It's the same shooting recipe we've grown up to love, captured in a portable form. And while all this sounds great on paper, Icarus-X is not without its flaws. But let's start with the positive points.

Icarus-X is impressive in the graphics department among titles released in the genre. Like its iOS cousin, players are greeted with gorgeous 3D background animations and the illusion of flying at ludicrous speeds. The sprites are commendable and the techno tracks offer a nice comfortable auditory decoration, albeit a bit repetitive. Whether you're new or a veteran, Icarus-X matches the pace to cater to most players.

Playing via touch on a smartphone feels somewhat odd when it comes to shoot-'em-ups: whereas controlling planes via touch screen might sound like a great idea, the execution can be a bit of a mixed bag. We had no trouble maneuvering the plane in Icarus-X, but trouble started to brew once it came down to dodging large clouds of enemy fire. We found that our thumbs blocked the sight of our plane, which made the game critically difficult as a bullet-hell style shooter. Luckily, standard arsenal of screen-clearing bombs and a wide-reaching upgraded guns should help minimize the danger.

While Icarus captured the nostalgic arcade pilot in us, the game quickly became a repetitive chore for our thumbs. Little features like lack of different weapons and bland enemy types made pushing through five levels seem somewhat lacking until boss battles. However, players who play Icarus in short runs will appreciate the quick save built in, especially for harder difficulties.

Icarus isn't bad for its asking price but as a free app, it's a fine shooter with great polish and despite its minor flaws, it successfully gives users the arcade experience they've come to know and love. Be warned: the file size is more than 20MB.

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