Riff: Everyday Shooter PSN Review
Most contemporary art is meaningless. Marcel Duchamp was just a guy that turned a urinal on it side, and entries of the Turner Prize are more or less sheep that wish they turned the toilet first. The discussion of games as art is possibly even more pointless, if only due to the fact that the medium has even less spectators that partake in the debating, with most that contribute not fully understanding what the debate is about. Likewise, most art is similar to current video games as it is filled with rancid clichés. The twin stick shooter genre is probably the greatest example of this, as it is been overloaded with never-ending copies of what came before. For all intents and purposes all the games are the same, with just a different coat of paint to hide the inherent comparisons they share with their next door neighbours. In truth it would be quite easy to argue we’ve not really came all that far from the days of Robotron 2084 if you sit back and think about it.
As a result of this no one is really going to innovate in the genre, as there is not really much you can do to distinguish yourself from what came before. Like all the rest Everyday Shooter places you in a confirmed space, asks you to shoot everything you see on screen, and also similarly music plays when you shoot at and destroy those enemies. In this case it is guitar noises being procedurally generated building into fully fledged songs the more damage you cause. However, to further try and stand out from the rest the game boasts an interesting artistic direction combined with some attention-grabbing presentation that changes the way you approach each of the game’s eight levels with each offering different enemies, a different background, and most importantly a different combo system to the ones that came before. Thankfully this is also the main facet of the game that propels it above the crowd.
With a positively retro front menu that intentionally looks like something from the mid ’80s the game is visually striking from the outset. However, it is not until you get into the full game that Everyday Shooter visually starts to impress. The first level is high tempo and sees a vivid blue and sliver tinted background surging back and forth to the beat as you take down the enemies that appear. Conversely, the second is much less colourful and slower paced, but introduces more enemies to navigate around and shoot at. Then the third is all change once again, and will most likely be the first that needs intense concentration to take advantage of the game chain/combo system. This level will also be the first that will force your to not be trigger happy, as you will need to take advantage of the extra speed of movement you gain by not shooting to navigate around the swarm of enemies. This will also give you a chance to pick up the dots enemies drop when you kill them. These dots are of course points, yet another component of the game, harking back to older gaming memories.
Like others in the genre if you run out of lives in Everyday Shooter you get tossed back to the very start and have to play though the levels again. However, to make up for the abrupt restart you are given “Unlock Points” depending on how well you play, and how many dots you pick up on each attempt. You can then use these to buy extras to help you on you next attempt, or other items that add additional visual flair to the levels. A small example of this is that you can choose to start the game with four lives instead of three by spending 1000 unlock points. Because of this, and in a change from the likes of Geometry Wars everyone should feel they have a chance at seeing everything the game has to offer, and if you were the kind of person that never got close to hitting one million points in that game then this could be just what you are looking for. Nevertheless, it will still be a quite the achievement to see the end of the game as the later level are far from been a walk in the park. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give the game is that it does very little to annoy, and on the contrary it seemingly impresses around every turn. That is without doubt a highly impressive feat for any game, regardless of the genre it may be in.
We always ramble on about innovation being the most important thing in gaming. However, coming up a quick second on our list of the most important things would have to be refinement. In fact, at times we’d argue it sometimes trumps the latter to reach first place. Without someone taking the time to expand on what came before we’d still dabbling in unevolved versions of what people thought up years before. We’d still be playing Pong instead of experiencing the joy of Virtual Tennis, and we’d still have to dabble with Brain Training instead of experiencing the joys of Professor Layton.
In the end that’s exactly what Everyday Shooter offers players. It’s an exciting refinement of what came before, and there is no denying it is a great game to boot. However, it is a genre currently filled with ‘me too’ games, so its impact is unquestionably diminished. To be honest, trying to deconstruct, explain and rate this game for a review to an extent does the game a disservice. In the end it is fun to play, and that is what really matters. But still, you can’t help feel it would have been better if Jonathan Mak turned his smarts to something that had not been done to death. Maybe then we could truly appreciate his talent without getting that uncanny feeling of déjà vu.
One of the best the genre has to offer, and should impress unless you are already burnt out with all the others.