“It’s the year 20031, my name is Trent Hawkins and I’m going to escape the planet Tyrian. I get in to my Microsol fighter, fire up the engines and the barrels of my Vulcan cannon rotate as I prepare for the gunship and defenses I am about to fly past. I know what I need to get me through this……Midi-Techno!”
Tyrian is an arcade-style, vertical-scrolling shooter originally developed by Eclipse Productions in 1995. The iPhone version, which uses touch screen controls, is essentially the same game. The player controls a spaceship fitted with a variety of different weapons; at front and back are two main guns and two upgradeable pods sit either side of your chosen craft. You also have shields and armor which recharge through your generator (also upgradeable) and replenish through pick-ups respectively.
Enemies fly in from all angles, some fly in fixed patterns some stationary, and there are a wide variety of end-of-level boss battles, mostly consisting of set patterns of attack or fixed gun emplacements. These all get blown into smithereens upon depletion of their health bars, then your ship sets its engines to warp factor 9. In between levels there is a shop where you upgrade your ship and armaments, as well as reading the story transmissions that you earn by finding them in missions or completing a level. You also choose which level you go to next as there are several paths through the game.
Each level gets steadily more difficult due to the sheer number of enemies and obstacles that assault you. Eventually it becomes tricky not just to dodge enemy fire but to find a single point on the screen where something isn’t trying to kill you. This, however, is twice as hard as it should be due to the control mechanism. The player moves their craft by placing their finger on top of the ship and sliding it around the screen. This would be fine with a stylus or if you have small fingers, however I found myself obscuring the craft with my finger making accuracy questionable at best. You can control it by placing your finger elsewhere on the screen but you are always obscuring something or running out of space, limiting your movement. What also makes things tricky is that your guns are automatically firing on full blast, eating away at your generator’s power meaning your shields expire very quickly. You can toggle them on and off but during a hectic boss battle it can be a bit stressful.
The artwork is by Daniel Cook and has a cartoon like feel to it but there is also a lot of attention to detail as well. This is why the Tyrian logo looks so strange, It’s called an ambigram as it reads “Tyrian” when held upside down. The music composed by Alexander Brandon and Andras Molnar is really high quality, with techno tracks to keep energy levels high for the action whilst more cinematic moments set a mood for boss battles and story screens.
Overall this is an amazingly crafted vertical-scrolling shooter, with a lot of content and quality to show. I can’t help feel that a different control method would give it a little more edge but at £1.19 it’s still a great purchase and one of the finer examples of its genre.