January 22, 2014 9:35 PM | Lena LeRay
Bullet hell shooters are as much about dodging as they are about shooting things. In Atomic Fusion: Particle Collider for Android and iOS, Bytesized Studios has lifted that idea of dodging waves of doom out of the bullet hell genre, given it a quantum physics themed wrapper, and optimized the controls for touchscreens. To top it off, the game is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play but also designed such that skilled players will always have more to strive for.
Quantum physics is an area about which I know little, so I can't vouch for how well the game does or does not follow scientific principles, but the player is a quantum physicist tasked with creating the elements of the periodic table by controlling an atom and absorbing plasma waves into it. Plasma waves come in matter and antimatter varieties, and since the atom being controlled can only absorb one kind at a time, the player must switch back and forth between being able to absorb the two kinds of plasma.
In a lot of ways it feels like playing Ikaruga minus the need to destroy other things. The more waves the player successfully absorbs, the closer they get to finishing the current element so they can move on to the next one. Hitting a wave of the wrong type reduces progress towards finishing the element. Getting hit by the wrong type of plasma too many times means game over.
Once a new element has been unlocked, the player can start again from that level at any time. But what happens when all of the known elements are unlocked? Well, that's where algorithms take over to make the game increasingly harder with the discovery of each new element. Starting with element 119, the first person in the world who finishes forming each element gets to name it for all other players to see, giving the best players something to strive for no matter how long they keep playing the game.
There are two control schemes besides the default which allow the player to skip the multitouch requirement to switch absorption types, but at the cost of disallowing the ability to use either hand to move. That basically means that there are two control schemes, with the non-defaults being right- and left-handed versions of the same thing. Most players will probably find the default control scheme easy and natural to use.
I see only one problem with this game, which is that its gameplay is reliant on being able to see the difference in color between blue and orange. Colorblind players may be at a disadvantage when playing because that is the only difference between the two plasma types, both for the atom and for the waves. To compound this problem, some waves change color and type, going back and forth, and the indicator is subtle even for those who can see all colors without a problem.
The game is free to download for both iOS and Android. A download gets you access to the first ten levels, after which the full game can be unlocked for $1.99. The first ten levels should be plenty to give you a good idea of whether or not you'll like the full game.