Sometimes when you're browsing the App Store you see a game that looks so quirky you wonder if it would be a diamond in the rough purchase or a waste of good money. For a game like Shellrazer, there's no question that you happened upon an App Store diamond that's going to be shining bright in your app game library.

Shellrazer is a pick-up-and-play style game with a simple premise -- get from point A to point B without dying. Play as a Klang Clan Turtle Wrangler who must safely navigate his War Turtle across the treacherous terrain of the Goblin Kingdom. Goblin archers, ballooners, mutants, war machines and various mines litter the playfield as you slowly (remember, you're still a turtle) walk towards the goal line. But your shell alone won't protect you from the hordes of enemies raining arrows, cannon fire and bombs at you, so you've got an awesome array of weaponry strapped to your back to help you along the way.

Slick Entertainment hit a home run with this addicting, simple and difficult game. The graphics are cartoony, bright and colorful and look amazing on your iPhone or iPad with retina display. Each character and obstacle you face is wonderfully detailed and you have a great view of all of the action on screen. Touch controls are simple as you use one finger to guide your weapon crosshairs and the other to hold down and fire. Weapons are stacked one on top of another. To fire them, just press your thumb down on each one. Some weapons like the cannon require a reload period before you can fire them again. Weapons like your machine gun are usually must haves for each level because of their constant rate of fire. Sometimes the controls can be a bit touchy when it comes to trying to fire your weapon, but it's a minor occurrence. One problem I had is sometimes when a level starts the ground troops will come at you so fast you don't have time to respond to shoot them. A two second gap so you could get your control bearings before the action started would have been nice.

Besides the weapons on your back, you also have a variety of power-ups available to you at the bottom of the screen. These can be selected (depending on what you've purchased or earned) in the weapons screens before you start each level. It's a nice way to customize your turtle before diving into battle. Some weapons and power-ups don't work as well as others, so finding the right combination that works best for you just adds to the depth of the game. Ground and air troops will be trying to stop you as you progress. It can be maddening trying to keep track of all of the enemies that can come at you all at once. That's why choosing the right power-ups is vital if you're stuck on a particular level. Pressing the turtle will cause him to walk faster but it's a something I never used because I didn't want to take my thumb off of my weapons.

Shellrazer is a massive game. There are over 50 levels to play with branching paths. You can take a side path to try and rescue a "champion." Complete the level, and the champion's weapon will be added to your arsenal. You can upgrade each weapon with eight different specialized upgrade choices. You earn money on each level (even if you fail) that can be used to purchase power-ups and weapon upgrades.

In-app purchases are available. You can buy a "bookie" for .99 cents who fiddles with the money you earn, giving you more coin than what you actually deserve. I'm not a fan of in-app purchases for more coins but I did purchase the bookie to get me more money in the game. These power-ups and weapon upgrades aren't going to buy themselves! Even if you've failed in a level, the game still gives you whatever coins you've earned, which is a nice reward because some of the levels can be frustratingly difficult.

Shellrazer is an excellent addition to your gaming library. The amount of levels, enemies, power-ups and weapons will keep you entertained for hours. For the amount of gameplay you get, there's no way in shell you should pass up this diamond in the rough.


App Store Link: Shellrazer for iPhone & iPad | By Slick Entertainment | Price: $2.99 | Version: 1.0 | 30.6 MB | Rating 9+

8.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating