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GlitchSoft's original side-scroller takes strong cues from hardcore shooter classics, serving up a loving homage to Contra III with similar mechanics, weapons, and music, plus monstrous bosses that take multiple drubbings to defeat. Star Marine makes a couple adjustments to the typically tough formula, letting you use items to escape death or refill your health, but the biggest change comes from one very modern twist: an awful insistence on microtransactions.
Unlike its inspiration, kills in Star Marine are tallied by a timed combo meter, with faster enemy death tallies yielding more points; these in turn are used to collect the in-game currency, called gems. Upgrading most skills and weapons is expensive; counterintuitively, this boils down to either having to shell out real cash for a gem pack or face tedious grinding to get new equipment.
Other problems persist. Unlocked weapons can be destroyed in a few hits, leaving you stuck with your basic pea-shooter assault rifle for long bouts. The somewhat sluggish virtual d-pad makes also precise movement trying, and bullet streams miss a beat when transitioning from prone to upright.
The bottom line. Numerous issues make Star Marine an inferior homage. Dust off the original classics instead.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.0 or later
Generally does a solid job of emulating the Contra experience. Nice visuals and appropriately moody music.
Forced grinding or microtransaction usage. Inaccurate virtual controls don't lend themselves well to twitch gameplay.