Icarus may not bear the weight of predecessors like Galaga, but it's a worthy entry into the genre nonetheless.
- Well executed
- Competitive bonus
- Simplistic fun.
- A bit too simple
- Not innovative.
Top-down space shooters were fundamental to the foundation of video games, requiring a complicated but mechanical ability to dodge bullets and shoot them at the same time. In the years since their introduction, space shooters have become less popular, but all the more difficult to pull off successfully. Icarus (no relation to the Kid) may not be a complex game, or one whose gameplay will bear the weight of predecessors like Galaga, but it's a worthy entry into the genre nonetheless.
Compared with some of the more modern space shooters, Icarus is a very primitive game, with only the very basic shooter elements. You maneuver a ship through an environment that is being constantly propelled forward, among obstacles like space debris and asteroids. As you move, ships fly toward you, and you must take them out while dodging their projectiles. These projectiles, depending on their size, will inflict a certain amount of damage upon your ship until eventually it explodes and you're left with the option to quit the game with that score or continue with the score reset to zero. Most games in the genre are set up this way, with the overall difficulty level varying mostly with the maneuverability of your ship. Icarus is minimalist in this regard. It's not always easy to proceed through the level, but at no point does the complexity rival that of other major shooter franchises.
The game gives you only a few weapons to work with. Your main blaster can be set to automatically fire, which is useful, though maybe a little bit like setting the game to easy. You have three bombs on each level, and these devices effectively wipe out all the current enemies and bullets, but should be used only in case of emergency. There are also upgrades that can be picked up along the way that add missiles to your standard fire, or spread your bullets across a 45-degree range, for example. Points are awarded for every ship you kill--the bigger, the better--and if you have any bombs left over at the end of a level, you'll receive a point bonus for them. You can upload your high scores to a central server, which scores you either absolutely or relatively against other Icarus players. This feature is no longer that novel, as more and more mobile games are including scoreboards, but the competition still provides some additional replay value.
Icarus' graphics are well done but extremely simple, given the nature of the game and the abilities of the LG VX7000 handset. The game's music is pretty good, but it unfortunately loops after about 10 seconds of playing. It's a catchy tune, but you will likely turn it off after the first few times hearing it. The other sound effects are minimal and won't be missed if you turn them off.
The game may not be much more complicated than the space shooters that came out 20 years ago, but it is paced well and has some challenging gameplay to boot. If you like shooters and are looking for a simple diversion, Icarus is worth a look.