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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Resogun

My brothers gave me a PS4 on my birthday, so the first thing I did was to download and fire up Resogun. I wasn't able to get into Housemarquee's previous big outing on the PS3, Super Stardust HD, because it was simply too hard. The original asteroids game just wasn't this hard.

Resogun's the spiritual successor to Defender, If you grew up in the 80s as a kid, you'll remember that Defender was amazingly, incredibly hard. The arcade box had 5 buttons and one joystick, and being an arcade game, had only one difficulty level: hard. Like Super Stardust HD, I expected to get my ass handed to me for about an hour and then I'd give up in frustration to try more modern games.

To my surprise, Resogun's easy difficulty level with unlimited continues allowed me to not only complete all 5 stages of the game, but also taught me how to get good enough to finish the game without continues a second time with a second ship. That's a first for me as far as an arcade style game is concerned, and that I continued to play despite finish the game once is a testament to how much fun the game is. Defender was never this much fun! I'm even tempted to bump u the difficulty level another time.

Like the original game, Resogun has you piloting a space ship through a horizontally wrapped world. Unlike the original, you can pilot the ship in one direction while firing in the opposite, though you cannot fire in any axis other than the horizontal. Enemies spawn and come at you almost constantly, though you can clear the board and gain a breather. As opposed to the hyperspace button, you have a "boost" button, which lets you zip around the board at speed. There's also an over-drive button, which puts the game into slow motion and turns your weapon into a solid beam that scorches enemies. Both buttons need to be recharged over time.

Finally, of course, there's the smart bomb, which clears the screen of enemies. There are enough differences from the original to knock you for a loop the first time you hit them. For instance, you can only pick up one human at a time, unlike the original. And rather than just picking it up, you can also deliver the human to an exit point to "save the human". Another interesting point of difference is that the humans rather than being free standing at start, begin by being locked into prisons, and when keepers show up, you have to destroy them to free a human for you to save.

The game is a scintillating cluster of colors, pixels, boxes, and moving pieces that are both retro and modern at the same time. The scrolling display is rendered in a 3D cylindrical view, and the music is as kinetic as you would expect. It takes you a split second at each introduction of a new enemy to figure out what it's doing and how best to attack it, and the same applies to the boss fights. After a single play through, certain events finally get a chance to filter into your consciousness and you start paying attention to them. "Keeper Detected", for instance, is an audio cue to let you know that those new enemies that are showing up have to be destroyed for you to free up a human. Once you've destroyed those, a shooting star animation takes place on the far side of the planet and you have to race there to rescue your newly freed charge. Fortunately, Housemarquee chose not to allow you to accidentally shoot your humans.

One of the best things about video games is that the good ones let you feel like a kid again. And Resogun definitely is one of the good ones. While I wouldn't get a PS4 just for Resogun, it's definitely worth picking up once you have one.

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