Bit Pilot is the latest game by Zach Gage with music by Sabrepulse. What began as a 1hr prototype for a control scheme turned out “to be so much fun that i built the whole game around it” (Zach). We got our hands on a ad-hoc few weeks back and we simply can’t put it down. As Zach prepares to submit Bit Pilot to Apple for review, we finally got a go ahead to publish few words about it. UPDATE: Now available in the AppStore!!
As with other apps Zach created in the past I always get excited when I hear “Hey, got this game I am working on, would you like to try it”. Zach’s games have a very unique feel to them and every single iPhone release and those not yet released and still in development are truly unique in their own right. Some may be reminiscent of the classics (unify-tetris, synthpond-toshio iwai-tenori-on) but every time distinctive in their visual feel as well as how they utilise iPhone controls.
Created using openFrameworks, an open source C++ framework, Bit Pilot is an arcade shooter with a simple task to score as many points as possible by trying to keep your ship in one piece the longest. To do this, you will need to avoid asteroids coming your way and collect pills that will either build up shields or score you points. Trying to keep up with both can be tricky at times and you will find yourself having to sacrifice shield to obtain point pills. There are two modes in the game; Easy – the mode you start with and Normal (need min 3500 points on Easy to unlock). You swipe your finger anywhere on the screen in the direction you want your ship to go, two finger swipe will make it go faster. To slow down swipe in the opposite direction or hit a wall. As you live on, you will see points go up (~40/sec), pick up blue+orange pill for 1k points and red+blue for extra shield and 250 points = nothing more, nothing less. The controls are perfect. What may at first seem out of control, ie when you swipe your finger too hard and your ships launches in a single direction (remember asteroids?), after a while you will find out that you actually have a lot of control over the ship. After few hours play you will find yourself forcing your way between speeding asteroids like you’ve been doing it for years and not hours. Moving between asteroids is pleasure in itself, giving you a great amount of satisfaction knowing you are in control. Of course this is ever so more challenging when you reach about 15k points on Easy and around 6k on Normal. Asteroids start coming from all directions and if that’s not enough they scale too. Yellow asteroids grow larger as they pan across the screen so you will need to predict their size as they get near to you. Failure to do this, trying to fly pass it too close, will cost you a shield. The red asteroids are not that dangerous but they bounce off walls. The grey asteroids are those that the game starts with and while being quite small in the beginning they end up being quite large past 15k on easy so moving pass between them can be a challenge too. Another danger is the laser, which will kill you instantly and no shield will help you there. Regarding the score, for some reason, you will repeatedly find yourself so close to beating your score that you’ll think this can’t be a coincidence! I still don’t understand how I can come only 100 or 200 points close to my best score and fail to beat it so many times. I suppose this is one of the addiction ingredients together with an absolute desire to score highest.
Although you may want to challenge yourself in the Normal mode, Easy more is a little like a warm up session. Bit Pilot is one of the few games where modes are games that both experienced and new players will enjoy equally. The Normal mode is not something you will play always having had experience in easy mode. It is the mode you may want to play when you don’t have much time, ie 5 min and the easy mode would last much longer. I tend to think that if I want a quick game I would play Normal and if I am on the train, travelling, I would opt for Easy.
As mentioned earlier music is provided Sabrepulse and includes 4 awesome tracks including the theme track. You can choose to play your favorite or opt for random selection once you have unlocked the other two tracks. There are few more surprises later in the game, ie unlocks, but I would like to leave that to you to discover.
To summarise, Bit Pilot is one of the most impressive games I have played in awhile. If you have enjoyed Canabalt, fast paced, heart pumping action, Bit Pilot will fit right into your collection of games on the iPhone. If I was going to give one gameplay advice, it is don’t panic! Take a deep breath, sit back, relax, thumbs on the screen and enjoy. Bit Pilot is absolutely fantastic!
Developer: Zach Gage