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Game Day: No Stick Shooter

I’ve been on a little bit of a retro arcade shooter binge lately. I’m not sure how this started, but sometimes you just want to shoot lasers at something. No Stick Shooter delivers with an intense, frenetic game that’s like Missile Command turned up to 11.

You’re in charge of a turret and have to defend your planet from a constant barrage of meteors, enemies, and other obstacles. The game starts out a lot like Missile Command. You have to shoot down the incoming enemies before they breach your defenses and destroy your world.

Weapons are unlocked as you progress through No Stick Shooter's levels. The controls are easy to use and precise. All you do is tap where you want your blasters, lasers, and lightning to shoot, but you need to use your weapons sparingly to avoid running out of power in the middle of a battle, which leaves you defenseless. The game is divided into three solar system stages, each of which have 9 levels plus a boss level to defeat. Each level also has goals that reward you with stars as you accomplish them, which provides incentive to completists to keep playing until they perfect each level.

I wasn’t sure that this sort of game would translate well to touch, but the controls are surprisingly accurate and it's fun to tap away at the enemies and switch weapons in the left sidebar. There’s more to No Stick Shooter than just frantic tapping, though. Each enemy requires a different strategy to defeat. Some weapons work better on one type of enemy than another and everything is coming at you at different speeds, which requires you to consider where to shoot. The icing on the cake is the great retro visuals and soundtrack that lend an urgent feel to No Stick Shooter.

This is not a casual, relaxing game. Everything moves fast and demands your undivided focus and attention to beat each level. It’s not the kind of game I like to play all the time, but it’s also incredibly absorbing, which is relaxing in its own way.

No Stick Shooter is available on the App Store.

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