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Review: PewPew for Android

My hatred of touch screen controls is well-known to my editor here at Droid Life. Most of the time Kellex isn’t a fan of posting my more vitriolic reviews because games that do touch controls badly are simply bad apps. They fail in their most basic function: to make the game easily playable with minimal frustration.

Every once and awhile, however, I find something that changes my mind: PewPew is one of those games. It takes the winning formula of the Geometry Wars series and mercilessly rips it off; I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. However, it replicated the dual joystick experience of an Xbox 360 controller quite well through two amazing responsive on-screen control knobs. In short, one control stick moves you, the other tells the game which direction you want to shoot. Sometimes the game is a “rub your stomach while pat your head” conundrum; keeping track of the two is harder than it looks.

On that note, I’d like to give major props to the developer, for he had the foresight to give us the option where we wanted to place the joysticks. This killed one of my greatest complaints dead: I hate not being able to see things because my thumbs are in the way. He also gave us a high score/points system, four different play modes and a method of upgrading/buying new ships. This gives the game a longevity I didn’t anticipate – it’s always fun trying to beat your new score, or earn the medal for that game type. It doesn’t hurt that the game looks amazing and has some killer sound design; it very much fits the same mood that Geometry Wars encapsulated originally.

Complaints are few, but this game is far from flawless. I’ve had a hell of a time trying to get it working consistently due to a nasty startup freeze where the music plays unimpeded; I’m going to attribute this to my Milestone being overclocked to hell and back. However, this game is relatively simple when it comes to graphics, and if this problem is prevalent on a lot of phones, that’s something the developer is going to need to fix ASAP (please comment if you get this error.)

Another problem is more of a design philosophy flaw: sometimes, due to the small nature of my phone’s screen, I can’t tell what immediate threats to my ship are. This makes things difficult when you’re trying to operate touch controls with pinpoint accuracy, and can lead to some pretty stupid deaths. I’m not sure if this game will allow more of a playing area to be revealed with phones that have higher resolution: if so, it would be perfect for a tablet.

You can download PewPew here, from the Android Market. It’s free.


Matt Demers is Droid Life’s app guy, and is trying to keep this review under 500 words. How do you like his articles? Long or short? Tell him via e-mail or Twitter, and follow him while you’re at it. You can also find him on I Am Android.

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  • Bucho2k

    Look at those high tech graphics. The iPhone has nothing to compare with this game.

  • Anonymous
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  • http://twitter.com/trongable Trong Nguyen

    I think this game is great but it shows some inheritance problems with Java, and no disrespect, but maybe the dev too.

    I’ve been playing the game for a few weeks now and have noticed that the game gets slower and slower as you continue playing. At some point, your whole phone will be almost unusable and stutter-y. Force stopping doesn’t help at all and the phone will still be choppy the next morning unless you reboot the phone.

    I’m not claiming that I know how he coded the game, but I do know that performance on Android depends heavily on the garbage collector. It seems like the dev didn’t let the destroyed ships get garbage collected so we end up with a massive memory “leak.”

    Maybe he wrote it with the NDK, maybe it’s actually Android’s fault… who knows? But that’s just my garbage collection theory is what made the most sense to me.

    • http://twitter.com/mattdemers Matt Demers

      Great insight, dude. Sadly I’m not too privy on the way apps work on the inside (working on this.) Might want to send a dev this information.

    • Jyaif

      Hi, dev here.
      I indeed wrote it with the NDK, so it’s not the garbage collector’s fault (I am basically doing zero allocation). It’s very difficult for me to correct the problems, as I can’t reproduce the crashes and the performances drop on my device.
      Can you try the latest version (1.5.5) and send me a mail to tell me if the problems are still present?

      • http://twitter.com/trongable Trong Nguyen

        That would explain why it runs so smoothly hahaha (excluding the stuttering)! Yeah sure, I’ll send you an email in a bit. Glad to see you’re reading feedback :)

        And many thanks for the awesome game!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Fountain/1775190181 Travis Fountain

    This game does not like my OG Droid. Crashes constantly… :(

  • Gregory

    You can’t disable the sound

  • Anonymous

    why doesn’t it want to go to my eris? does anyone have the APK?

  • Skyskioc

    way too advanced for me

    • Bilvis

      I found it to be very simple.

      I’m also an avid gamer since 1987

  • Bilvis

    Last.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kane-Stapler/597191406 Kane Stapler

    I love the new market. No more whipping out my phone to take a picture of a QR code, just click the link and its downloaded to my phone. Yay Google!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674902817 Zach Davis

    great game, I guess the creators of Geometry Wars (Bizarre Creations) shut down like last week, so this will be my new fix :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674902817 Zach Davis

    great game, I guess the creators of Geometry Wars (Bizarre Creations) shut down like last week, so this will be my new fix :D

  • Anonymous

    I love this game, but it does crash a lot on my phone.

  • Alex

    First