Developer / Publisher: Mixed Bag Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 & PlayStation Vita (via PSN)
Price: £7.99 (Cross Buy)
I must confess I’ve had my eyes on this game since it was first announced as coming to PSVita & PS4, having originally been released as an iOS / Android game. This version could be classed as a definitive edition adding more features, levels and music than the original release.
Visually this game has more than a deliberate passing resemblance to 3D shooters such as Star Fox on SNES. Using the processing power of current systems to unleash some graphical effects I don’t think I’ve seen before the main one being colour diffusion, which occurs when you boost your ship with R1 causing a fish-eye lens effect and separation of the colours within the objects, something similar is done within Fez but doesn’t have the same impact as it does within Futuridium.
Controls are simple but not what I was expecting the ships controls are mapped to the left analogue stick, up and down control the ships vertical position / aim and left and right cause it to bank, you can also use the diagonals too. I was expecting duel stick controls with banks and rolling but this isn’t present. The controls through me for a bit until I adjusted. The aim of the game is to go a gunning run across, below and through areas shooting Blue cubes with X button as you go, until a Core is revealed when all blocks are destroyed. Destroying the Core moves you on to the next level. Simple enough, well it would be if you didn’t have an Energy bar that is drained by general flying or more rapidly drained by Boosting using R1 or crashing (which you’ll do a lot to begin with). Added to this each level has 3 achievement that can be met. No deaths, Super Speed & Chain Combo. The latter being the very difficult to start with as it requires taking out all the blue cubes in a flow, sometimes requiring using Square to flip your ship thorough 180 on the horizontal. Allowing you to come back on cubes you’ve missed, mastering the timing of this move is important and tough.
When you manage to achieve a 3 achievement ranking there’s a massive buzz of satisfaction due to the difficulty. Especially on later levels where the ships you destroying blue cubes on start to fire back, from basic turrets which can easily be dodged, homing missiles which require shaking off and big red balls of death that are a total pain.
Thankfully the Deluxe mode features a credits system allowing you to carry on from where you’ve left off including any cubes you’ve destroyed already being disintegrated. These blue cubes serve a greater purpose as you destroy set numbers rewards are opened up from extra Credits, new level skins, extra modes. The extra modes are excellent as one allows you to play through Zones at a time, rather than starting from Zone One like Deluxe Mode. There’s a Classic mode which disable the boost button are proves quite a challenge, Demo mode which I believe is the version that was installed on some PS4 Demo units in retail stores. The biggest surprise was Flappyridium, a side-scrolling endless runner style game in the exact style of Flappybird. Simple 1 button controls to keep you ship airborne and avoid crashing into this. Sounds simple but getting the Bronze Trophy for getting 50 points is going to take some doing.
I’ve not got many negatives when it comes to this game, my main being the Story which harks back to days of old and is very basic setting the scene for the reason you’re destroying Blue cubes and cores. Though I feel it doesn’t add anything to the game. Adjusting to the controls was an initial set back but once you find the flow, my only issue is with judging the ships proximity to objects especially the top side which I regularly smashed in to the underside of massive interstellar battle ships. There is an option to change the view using down on the D-pad but I’d personally have loved the inclusion of a cockpit view, rather than just the tricky to use first person view, giving me the feeling that I’m actually piloting a space craft. I feel there’s a difference between the controls on PSVita and PS4 probably due to the limited draw on the PSVita’s Stick which I actually preferred as it became more twitchy.
The music is really varied and is easily about 45 minutes worth of electronica, sadly a few feel like they don’t fit within the theme of the game and I’d have preferred a track list option but tracks can be skipped with the left & right on digital pad. The dubsetp and house / trance tracks work really well and had me bopping away as I played.
The game’s cross-buy on both PSvita & PS4 featuring no Cross-save between platforms but does have separate trophy lists, which really adds additions replay value. Mixed Bag Games Twitter account seems to indicate they may be working on patching in Cross-Save this and a possibility of 3D support for PS4 too. Bring on the motion-sickness, I’ve already got sick-bags in preparation.
This game really deserves a demo on the PSN Store to allow people to get a feel for the game, because once you do it’s so damn playable and I many spent hours playing. The Deluxe mode had me trying to get a little further each time whilst improving my skills seeing best routes and chain combos, all the while improving rankings on the games leader boards which are great for score chasers like myself, as well as opening up interesting extras and credits. It has the challenge of games from the 16-Bit era with a price that is so well judged that if you’re a shooter fan you’d be a fool not to buy.