Friday, May 28, 2010
Four Quarter Friday - Retrofit - Overload
One of my favorite games in the history of arcade gaming is Galaga. Like all great arcade games of its time, it was easy to understand and play the first couple stages but incredibly difficult after that, and this has kept it loved and played for decades. Over the years, the shooter genre has evolved and changed its form, but developers still come out with games dedicated to the days of 70's and 80's arcade gaming, and XBox Live Indie game Retrofit - Overload is exactly that type of game.
Retrofit - Overload from WAM! Games is a lot like your normal Galaxian or Galaga style arcade game. Enemies fly in from the top or side of the screen, take position near the top, and fly down to shoot or ram your ship at the bottom while you return fire and dodge their attacks. Get rid of all of them, and another wave appears, and then another, and so on and so forth, occasionally breaking up this pattern with a bonus stage or a boss fight. What Overload does differently than that which it's styled after, however, is allow the player to move forward and back, much like another arcade classic Millipede. It also allows the player to activate a limited shield to protect against incoming bullets (or to just ram head first into the enemy, which is WAY too fun), and has a powerup that both gives you an extra hit before you die and adds more firepower. Essentially, Galaga with a shield and some Y-axis movement.
The visuals of Overload are a prime example of what happens when people who know what they're doing go for the "updated retro" look. Enemies have a simple look as colored shapes around a small white shape, and your ship looks like a 'W' trying to flex its muscles, but everything is bright and colorful in addition to having a fast blur on the black screen. In other words, retro without being pixelated, and it looks great. Everything moves at its proper pace, too, with not a hint of slowdown even when the screen is littered with incoming fire and foes. The sound effects are all arcade goodness, though it should be noted that there's no music. I personally don't find that to be a bad thing as that's the way it was with almost all the classic Namco arcade games, but I would've enjoyed a little tune between stages.
Controls are as perfect as they are simple. A or RT fires, left analog or directional pad moves, and "everything else" is shield. Seriously, the only things not listed that don't activate your shield are the right analog and the back/start/guide buttons. Left analog is the preferred method of movement, letting you move in any direction at any speed as opposed to the one-speed eight-way movement of the d-pad, but it's good that it's there for people who like using arcade sticks.
Like most classic games, Overload goes more for quality instead of quantity. There's only one mode, but it's really all the game needs. Friends on the same couch can drop in at any time for co-op action by simply hitting A, and you can continue once you lose all your lives as many times as you want, though (thankfully) your score resets to 0 when you do. Speaking of which, there's a high score leaderboard that shows up to 1,000 of the top scores for the competitive gamer out there. My only complaint with the entire game is that, if you continue at a later level or if a friend joins far into the game, it's a difficult ride. Enemies start needing more and more shots to die, and until you have at least one ship powerup you're in a lot of trouble.
Despite that issue with continuing at the later levels, this is a game that oozes quality, replayability, and that "one more game" addiction only arcade-style gaming can deliver. I don't think there's a single title out there for everyone, but Retrofit - Overload is pretty close, and easily worth your four digital quarters.
Retrofit - Overload from WAM! Games is available on XBox Live for 80 MS Points. Played a few times by myself, once co-op, and loved every second of it. Seriously, I wish I was playing right now.