Developer: Exis Interactive
Run from left to right. Shoot things. Power up. Dodge. Weave. Jump. Spread shot! Win.
Majestic-12 is that most satisfying of beasts, a good old-fashioned scrolling shooter in the vein of Contra or Metal Slug. Controlling an adorable-yet-deadly cel shaded shock trooper, you'll barrel headlong through some meaty stages, bring neon death to an entire legion of enemy combatants and fight a grizzly bear mecha tank.
Yes, that's right. The great thing about scrolling shooters is that they prioritise fun and challenging gameplay over grinding exposition and the looming spectre of 'authenticity.' Given the choice, I'll take a Bear Tank over door breaching sections any day. However, despite its old-school pretensions, Majestic 12 builds upon its traditional roots to deliver some interesting new gameplay ideas as well as insane bosses.
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Mmmmm...procedurally generated twin-stick shooter goodness.
Boss Baddie & VooFoo’s upcoming PSN extravaganza Big Sky Infinity has received a new teaser trailer showing off some more fast-paced, twin-stick action. All of the levels in Big Sky Infinity are randomly generated, based on player performance. Ad when things get a little too hot, you can turn your spaceship into a flying drill and burrow through entire planets.
Of course, that's if you haven't had a seizure from the celestial light show first.Hit the jump for the trailer >>
Developer: BatCat Games
The Xbox Live Indie marketplace continues to prove its worth as an incubator and testing ground for PC games talent. After releasing breezy twinstick shooter P-3 on the service at the start of the year, Irish studio BatCat Games joined the growing number of developers who've enhanced and retooled their wares for PC, adding both content and graphics options. P-3 Biotic is the result: a shiny, bloom-filled SHMUP available on IndieCity and IndieVania.
You should know the drill by now. Players pilot a small ship in a claustrophobic two dimensional arena (in this case, the interior of a biological cell), moving with the left thumbstick while independently directing a stream of neon death with the right. Of course, as a PC game, WASD and mouse controls are also available depending on your tastes. Waves of increasingly numerous and exponentially dangerous enemies continually spawn into the tight confines, pushing your reflexes, manoeuvrability and survival instinct to the limit. BatCat have gone to town on neon-edged visual impact and pizazz, promising vastly improved graphics and particle effects - and delivering - but at a basic level it's very much business as usual.
P-3 Biotic does feature one massive wrinkle, however, in the form of a pulsating vulnerable nucleus. It's both a gift and a curse, your deadliest weapon and your most crippling vulnerability.
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Earlier this month, news broke that the Australian Classification Board had rated a game called "The Expendables 2 Videogame", presumably a planned tie-in with the upcoming movie. Well, it now appears that a gameplay video has been leaked, possibly via the developer backend of Xbox LIVE.
Taking the form of a four-player, twin stick shooter, the footage shows a game that certainly still needs some kinks ironed out, with glitches and typos galore.Click here to read more...
Publisher: Square Enix
We had a controversial love affair with All Zombies Must Die! when it released earlier this year. Sure, Doublesix's zombie shooter was twinstick by the numbers, but its light RPG elements and personable visuals won us over and kept us coming back for more. DLC was inevitable for a game with such a basic framework, but rather than showering us with a bitty content campaign, Doublesix decided to launch a cut-price, standalone expansion pack that can be bought and played individually. The result is Scorepocalypse, and once again, the name says it all.
Playing as veteran soldier McJagger, players return to Deadhill in order to eliminate the entirety of the undead population (I'm trying not to reuse the title too many times), picking up a few extra characters and better weapons along the way. However, in stark contrast to the original game, this is just a premise rather than a true gameplay hook - since the focus is now on accruing the biggest high scores and combos possible in order to compete on the leaderboards. You'll fight off infinite waves of zombies in tight quarters until you die or your fingers fall off, eventually emerging with a high score and some persistent experience for your troubles. And then you'll do it again. And again.
That's right. Strip away the standalone element, and Scorepocalypse is that most heinous of beasts: arena DLC. Can Doublesix' humour and personality help to redeem this reviled post-launch gambit?
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Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Publisher: Xbox LIVE
Summer Of Arcade 2011 has reached its third week, heralding probably the most visually appealing title of a visually appealing bunch. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet tasks players with guiding a UFO deep into the bowels of the menacing eponymous celestial body, exploring its depths and eventually cutting out its dark heart - saving an alien world from certain destruction in the process. Or to cut to the chase: it's two parts twinstick shooter, one part physics-based puzzler and features a fair bit of nonlinear exploration on the side.
Much like Castlevania and Metroid, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet features a single enormous map populated by thematic zones, terrifying enemies and puzzles to overcome. As you'd expect, the tools to circumvent, manipulate or plain blast through these obstacles are also tucked away into the far corners of the level - rewarding exploration and backtracking in order to revisit areas that you can access with a new toy. You'll soon wield a manipulator arm to move objects directly, a powerful shield, a guided missile (more on that abomination later) and a rotary saw to cut your way through loose rock amongst many others. A solid physics engine chunters along in the background, ensuring that the solutions to each blockade or barrier is a simple matter of common sense.
Click here to read our Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet review!
EA and Vanguard Games have announced a release date for Gatling Gears via a new trailer. It's a visceral twinstick shooter set in the quirky Mistbound universe, and in our recent hands-on preview, I was quick to praise its hectic action, slick visuals and innovative drop in online multiplayer.
Gatling Gears has been dated for May 11th on XBLA and May 18th on PSN. Pricing is TBA, and expect a review to follow.
Greed Corp became a sleeper indie hit when it released last year. Its old school turn-based vibe and destructible landscape turned a lot of heads, but Vanguard Games mainly received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the adorable mechs and slick cartoon world in which the action took place. Vanguard clearly wanted to capitalise on this unique selling point, and the result is Gatling Gears: a twinstick shooter that puts players into the cockpit of cute, devastating walkers and gives us a more personal look at the Greed Corp universe.
We dropped by the latest EA showcase to check out the title in action, and with Vanguard designer Nick Kuppins on point to take our questions, we blasted our way through a couple of levels.
In short: it's shaping up nicely.
Throughout thirty stages split into six colourful themed levels, players will wield a deadly mech as they stroll upscreen and tackle hordes of tanks, aircraft and enemy walkers. The tried-and-tested twinstick mechanics make the action immediately accessible, and Kuppins explained that great pains were taken to ensure that the walker handles responsively without being too twitchy. Poor controls and lumbering characters can ruin a good shooter, and I was delighted to discover that the mech's movement speed provides a perfect balance between precision, speed and heft.
You'll need every little bit of manoeuvrability at your disposal, though, because the enemy onslaught comes thick and fast. While it's technically incorrect to label Gatling Gears as a "bullet hell" shooter, enemy attacks frequently fill the screen with incoming fire and require some serious reflexes and pattern recognition to withstand. Luckily the invulnerable projectiles glow a bright red, making them instantly recognisable amongst the debris and explosions. A health bar also relieves a little pressure and limited lives are reset at the end of each 10-15 minute stage.Click here to continue reading our Gatling Gears Preview >>
Q-Games came pretty close to perfection with the first game. So we were damn pleased to hear it was getting a full-on sequel as we would have been psyched with a few extra DLC levels.
If you missed out first time around I'll quickly bring you up to speed. The dual-stick 2D shooter has you flying a small ship, rescuing miners, shooting enemies, and blasting, melting and burrowing your way through terrain looking for survivors, treasure and a way out.
Expect to fly around a huge worm-like creature's insides, abandoned mines and icy caves before the end credits role. Graphically, the game maintains the same style as before. No better, no worse. Which works just fine and lets us get straight down to business like we only finished the last game yesterday.
The ship's handling is perfectly responsive and there are plenty of fine touches to get your ass out of trouble when you need to get a move on. Quickly rotating the right stick swishes your ship around, activating a brief shield to cockily deflect enemy fire and also suck up any nearby points. New to the series is a spinning boost attack that hurtles you forwards in a straight line when you press R3 while spinning. It's a bit risky, as it can leave you vulnerable if you miss and land too close to an enemy.
When a robotic virus ravages a human body, only an aggressive robotic hero can battle through the bloodstream and purge the infection at the source. It's a beguiling setting for a shooter- but Microbot doesn't do itself any favours with its choice of genre.
Gameplay-wise, Microbot is a solid... wait for it... twinstick shooter. Xbox Live and PSN are glutted with similar experiences, and Naked Sky certainly haven't broken any new ground. Rather than the manic 'bullet hell' species, Microbot is more of a linear garden variety; peppered with plenty of mid-sized arenas and a few basic little puzzles along the way. Enemy cells and micro-organisms attack in small swarms that respawn from disgusting cancerous growths that need to be excised before moving on to the next arena- possibly with a switch or simple mechanism blocking the way. Rinse and repeat. This might sound insultingly basic to us veteran gamers, but Microbot has a fair few clever tricks sliding around beneath its skin.
As you complete levels and kill opponents, your robot gains hardpoints that can be equipped with a dizzying array of firepower. Each turret can be improved several times by spending collectable resources, and you'll soon be surprised at how powerful your plucky little robot soon becomes. In an interesting twist, both weaponry and locomotive methods can be upgraded/deployed- meaning that you can choose exactly how your Microbot gets around. Hell, you can stick propellers on every hardpoint if you really want to. The upgrade system is incredibly addictive and intuitive- and it persists between levels if you need to nip back and replay earlier stages for extra experience.Read on to see if Microbot is a cure or an irritating rash...
Platform: PSN on PS3
By the time the inevitable zombie apocalypse does come around, gamers will most certainly be the best equipped to survive. Well, as long as the apocalypse comes with extra lives, save-points and pause buttons.
Gamers have really taken zombies to their hearts in recent times with Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, COD's zombie modes and the undead have even burst into Japan's next Yakuza game. So will our love for the groaning shufflers go on, or will our enthusiasm fade like a Romero movie fan watching his latest 21st Century zombie-flick-flop?
Dead Nation is a retro-styled twin-stick shooter that flits between isometric and overhead viewpoints as you make your way through a long night of zombie survival. The story is told via the now standard credit-crunch concept art with a tiny bit of animation. City streets, graveyards, freeways and skyscraper rooftops all need to be waded through either by yourself or with a buddy in local or online co-op. You can work through the whole game together or just tackle a stage, many of which can take 20 minutes to finish.
Scoregasm blew me away at this year's Eurogamer Expo on the Indie Games Arcade. It's a twinstick shooter that offers insane and trippy visuals along with the most frantic gameplay I experienced at the entire show. It's designed to continually change both the arenas and the play experience with each level- and demonstrates real personality with unexpectedly zany minigames and a horrifyingly beautiful Frenzy bonus that needs to be experienced to be believed. To celebrate the expo, Scoregasm can be preordered at a vastly reduced rate... and is bundled with the gloriously frantic Irukandji to boot. Shooter fans really need to check this one out.
The Eurogamer Expo may be playing host to some of the most anticipated AAA titles of the coming year... but listen up, folks. The Indie Games Arcade contains some of the most imaginative, creative and genuinely fun game experiences to be found in Earls Court 0ver this weekend- and we'll be bringing you in-depth previews as well as opinions from the developers themselves. First up is Scoregasm from Charlie's Games.
Sometimes a name can be mysterious and misleading ... but Scoregasm does exactly what it says on the tin. Charlie Knight, the creative force behind Charlie's Games, explained that he was fed up with every level of twinstick shooters taking place in identical "square boxes" and having the same basic flow- and thus designed the experience to constantly challenge the player with new experiences. Each level boasts a differently-shaped arena, surprising new enemies and incredible visuals. Collecting powerups and accumulating points constantly power up the ship's weapons to insanely devastating levels, each of which are stackable with each other.
Frantic doesn't begin to describe the action. Technicolour hordes swarm towards the ship, and unbroken walls of projectiles soon threaten to engulf and destroy the fragile craft. The sheer ferocity of the assault is enough to make even hardened SHMUP veterans break a sweat. Luckily it's also one of the most responsive shooters I've ever played, since Charlie spent the best part of a week getting the movement exactly right. Rather than settling for standard analog control, Scoregasm actually equates each thumbstick movement to the same distance on the screen, and it makes weaving through bullets extremely intuitive. It's 1:1- and undeniably brilliant.
More importantly, the ship can emit a close range radial pulse that annihilates nearby enemies and incoming fire. Rather than the limited stock of smart bombs that most shooters tend to arm players with, this ability can be used indefinitely... so long as you're continuously killing foes in order to recharge it. This may sound relatively simple, but it's absolutely vital for success.
As you'd expect, score is king. Not only does your total dictate the difficulty settings available in the next level, but scoring highly enough treats players to a Frenzy. Fireworks explode, new waves of enemies spawn and swarm, and the audio bursts forth with what I can describe only as an electro-synth orgasm. It's a glorious assault on the senses.
The campaign will feature 43 levels and multiple difficulty levels, but to add extra variety, a number of minigames provide an unexpected breath of fresh air. Making coleslaw by shooting vegetables into a shredder or shaving a man's face is a hilarious change of pace! Despite occasional funding problems (which is unfortunately a regular occurrence in the Indie scene), Charlie explained that gameplay development evolved organically rather than sticking to a rigid plan- and it's great to see a game that strives to be constantly enjoyable rather than taking itself too seriously.
Scoregasm is currently available to preorder- and the beta's currently underway. Why not head over to Charlie's Games and check it out?