Last week, when I was on the train, I saw a young Chinese boy with thick glasses playing a game on a shiny white iPad. To my surprise and dismay, he wasn't playing Infinity Blade, Grand Theft Auto III or even Angry Birds. Instead he was playing a simple Chinese side-scroller.
Intrigued, I totally became a creep and walked right up to his mother and asked her what kind of game her child was playing. She told me he was learning about Chinese history and that he was playing the Red Campaign, in HD.
After I got home I went to the iTunes App Store and I downloaded the game to play myself. It was free.
The concept and game play were both very simple. In essence this is a twitch game packaged with Chinese "history", particularly Chinese history during the Sino-Japanese war era. Before each map the player is given a history screen explaining an important battle or event during the Sino-Japanese war. It's long-winded and history buffs will find there are certain omitted facts.
Gameplay-wise the player's characters are moving along a horizontal line and they keep moving until they reach the goal. While the characters are moving they can be swapped between the male Peoples Liberation Army's (PLA) soldier and the female PLA soldier. The male character carries a small Chinese made pistol and the female carries a shovel.
While they march on forward they are impeded by various obstacles that range from what looks like sea mines, barbed wire garrisons to even Japanese soldiers. This is where things get tricky. When the obstacle in front is a non human enemy the female soldier needs to swapped out because she will take care of the problem with her shovel, when the obstacle becomes a soldier, the male soldier needs to be called out.
As the game progresses the speed gets faster. Unfortunately the game play dynamic doesn't change much apart from having one line to deal with to the eventual three.
Unlike most red games, The Red Campaign doesn't adhere to the PLA being unstoppable killing machines instead it is more reasonable. The player can lose and there is a game over. One thing that the designers did do was allow the player to regain health; this made the game last a bit longer.
There is nothing HD about this game apart from the fact that the HD version was made to fit better on the iPad. Despite it being a very monotonous game, it does serve as a pretty good time waster between subway stops. It's also very funny to see the look on the male soldier whenever he gets blown up by a mine. It brings a smile to my face.