Wonton 51 hails from a combination of the aforementioned Play Carpet Mat, a healthy imagination and a liberal dose of Japanese game culture. A colourful and well-imagined world of soup, noodles and bullets is given a hint of back-story: your girl has been stolen and you need to prove that you are ‘dope’ enough to win her back. So you suit up in your giant mech and fly up the screen towards your unseen target. Movement is locked to one plane on the horizontal axis and controlled with a sliding finger. You fire by tapping or holding further up the screen to where you want to shoot.
This is a difficult game as well. You start with only one life and a puny little peashooter. One death sends you back to the menu screen unless you pick up a bowl of delicious ramen. Its nutritional power allows you to take an extra hit and increases the power of your weapon. If you have the maximum three lives and things are getting a bit hectic then you can always intentionally lose a life in order to slow down the pace of the game. One life can be sacrificed in order to make things a bit more manageable in the short term but, onceyou have died, your points will rack up more slowly again.
You will encounter bosses that are strangely reminiscent of the giant stealth bomber in Captain America and, as expected, the challenge increases the further along you get into the game. Score is calculated based on how far you have managed to travel, the number of enemies you have destroyed and, in true shmup fashion, the number of buildings that you have managed to scrape right next to without smashing straight into the side of them. Top scores are hard to achieve and for the completionist out there achievements are built in to keep you hitting the evil Baron Wonton with style.
The controls are as sharp as you can expect from an iOS touch screen game but they do take some getting used to. The default setting requires you to keep your finger on the screen and slide it for movement but because the decision has been taken to restrict movement to one plane for the player's character, genre fans may find it difficult to adjust to not being able to utilise the full play-space. This makes it harder to dodge bullets and leaves players with the feeling that the controls are not as fluid as some of Cave's iOS releases; tactics will need to be adjusted so that high scoring can be achieved. There are never enough bullets on screen at any one time to fully describe it as a bullet hell anyway; it is more of a bad day in bullet town. The fact remains that the controls will be a sticking issue for some players, and, as with changing the orientation of your iDevice, some players may find it easier to hold to shoot rather than tap the screen as the tutorial suggests.
The care that has been lavished on the sprites and the dialogue adds to the feel that Wonton 51 has been approached as a complete game and not a standard iOS score chaser. This is a game that comes from the heart and it should be lapped up by shmup fans but for those who aren’t already stalwarts of the genre, the high difficulty level may be off putting.
+ Stylish Japanese iOS gaming
+ Fun quick burst gameplay
+ Well pitched difficulty for shmup fans
- Difficulty can be off putting for beginners
- Suffers from the same problem as all iOS games for control
- Optimum control methods could be better explained