With your host, Rob Remakes

Tag: Switch

Tesla Force

A screenshot from the game Tesla Force. It is a floating stone Island, lit largely in purple and blue. Red Lovecraftian creatures roam and enormous glowing crystals break up the stone edifices.

Tesla Force has one of the most immediately disarming structures to a twin stick shooter I’ve played. In a good way, mind.

Picking up from the also wonderful Tesla Vs Lovecraft, Tesla Force reimagines the game as a more open, customisable, less guided experience. With co-op. I really like it but yeah, it certainly caught me off guard at first.

There’s a familiarity there, sure. If you’ve played Tesla Vs Lovecraft then you’ll be instantly at home with the menagerie of beasties, the mech/on foot/mech rhythm and the large array of weaponry, upgrades and whatever you can acquire. It’s all really solid, filling the screen with bullets and colourful explosions hasn’t gotten old yet and I’ve been playing this on and off for ages and ages now.

The surprising part is just how much freedom 10 Tons have built into the progression and how generous it is.

Sure, you’ll be exploding monsters into pretty colours in order to collect gems in order to spend gems to buy more ways of exploding monsters into pretty colours and repeat – fairly standard stuff – but unlike 10 Tons previous twin stickers, Tesla Force is (for want of a better phrase) a roguelike.

Each playthrough has you work your way through a procedurally generated map, moving from node to node until you reach the inevitable final boss. The first few rounds limits the choice of routes the player can take but a few upgrades later and the map is positively sprawling. So far so roguelike! I mean, it works doesn’t it? So, why not!

However, with the exception of the boss nodes, the stages don’t actually end. I can keep playing each one, rinsing them for gems and pretty colours until I decide to leave. As I say, it’s disarming at first. Even the lootiest of looter ARPGs tend to have a point where the player has exhausted things to do in a stage and they’re forced to move on yet Tesla Force leaves that up to the player.

Of course, there’s a wrinkle! This is a videogame after all and they’re tricksy things at the best of times. Once I begin the first stage, a countdown begins – the ominously named death clock – and each time the countdown reaches zero, the game gets a little bit more difficult, harsher, more abrasive. So the longer I spend on a stage, the more things get tricky, the more the stage will require more firepower, more health, more skill to survive.

Sure, I can keep grinding stage after stage but the longer I spend doing that, the more difficult the later stages are going to be. The more difficult the stage I’m grinding is going to be, never mind.

Whereas this would be a pretty oppressive system in most games, when combined with the brevity of each stage and the huge amount of skills and upgrades available to buy with your gems, it’s the other one. It’s remarkably freeing and lets me control the difficulty from stage to stage. If I fancy an easy ride? Get in, complete the objective, move onto the next node until done. Fancy testing myself? Stick around. No matter what happens, I’ll be collecting gems to spend on more upgrades or weaponry, each completed stage hands me a new weapon or ability to add to my arsenal, each game over nudging me closer to another unlock. In Tesla Force (as with a number of other recent roguelikes) a game over is an interruption, rather than an end.

There’s always progress and it’s hardly stingy, there isn’t an unlock that doesn’t make some tangible difference to the game and there is a lot to unlock. I’ve been playing for ages now and haven’t even got round to giving any of the other characters you can unlock a shot. I’ve been far too busy buying more weapons, more abilities, more slots to pop abilities into, more firepower, more time in the mech and on. I’m sure I’ll get round to giving them a go soon but y’know, I’m having loads of fun as it is. No rush!

Tesla Force is a wonderful game. I’ve been playing it on PS4 (and more recently on the Switch) and it’s not got any less enjoyable for all the (many!) hours I’ve pumped into it. In fact, I think I’ll just sneak another go in now whilst no-one is looking.

Zeroptian Invasion

You know, I was absolutely convinced I’d put words down on Zeroptian Invasion some time back but perhaps I should have double checked that one sooner because no, no, I had not.

I am really fond of Zeroptian Invasion.

I’ve long nurtured an appreciation of the single screen shooter, from Space Invaders, Galaga and the usual suspects through a whole bunch of home computer games, PD, homebrew and indie titles. In my old age, I’ve lost none of my love for the things and Zeroptian Invasion is no exception.

The opening stage presents the player with a really quite lovely Space Invaders-esque game in a gorgeous 70’s arcade meets ZX Spectrum style. Over the course of a fair handful of stages, it adds a wee bit more complexity to the mix, not a great deal because the game stays wonderfully true to its aesthetic and videogame inspirations, but certainly enough to ensure that it keeps the player on their toes.

Think a modern Gorf, you know? It’s that sort of deal.

It’s the kind of game that had it actually existed in the eighties, I’d have fallen in love with it pretty easily and would probably bend your ear off over even now. Given I’m still every bit as awed by similar games today as I was then, it was pretty easy for me to fall in love with it now, nevermind.

It helps in no small part by it being an absolutely gorgeous game! The sprite work is often wonderful and I’m a real sucker for the bezel artwork too.

I’ve been playing it on the PS4 and Switch. Other formats are available.

Dungeonoid

After so many years playing Breakout games with a whole bunch of modern conveniences, whether that’s flipper bats as in Gunbarich or more curvy bats as is the trend in casual (and the excellent Shatter), Dungeonoid’s lack of such things certainly ensures I find it a wee bit more challenging than a lot of more recent efforts.

It doesn’t help that my enjoyment of Breakout games is matched only by how rubbish I am at them and Dungenoid is no exception.

My problem, largely is one of impatience. I enjoy a lot of the more hands on arcade games because I am constantly pressing buttons, they’re as much something to fidget with as to play. Breakout, by design, includes plenty of moments of downtime as the ball bounces from brick to brick. I get twitchy waiting and when I get twitchy I inevitably muck stuff up.

Dungeonoid does compensate for this somewhat. Clearing a level is not necessarily a matter of clearing all the bricks, nor a matter of taking out all the enemies or or treasures littering the place, instead it’s just a matter of reaching the exit. Get your ball through the door and whoosh, next level. You won’t score so much in a game that’s about scoring the most but at least it can mean a level is over quickly if need be.

Despite my impatience though, I do love a good Breakout game and have done for a long time now, pretty much since Thro The Wall had me hooked all those years ago and Arkanoid and the lovely Batty cemented it. I’ve been really enjoying Dungeonoid even though my progress through it is incredibly slow.

It absolutely is defiantly old school in its design (and yes, that does include the dreaded ‘reverse controls’ power down), tough as old boots and asks for a lot more patience than most modern takes do. I must admit, this is largely why I love it. I wouldn’t want every game to be this tough for me to progress through but every now and then, the right one comes along and that’s Dungeonoid alright.

Dungeonoid is on the Switch and it’s quite cheap, really. Recommended but with the caveat that it is far from an easy ride.

Cataloguing The New Arcade: Debris Infinity

Whilst the high bar for Asteroids reinventions remains a tie between Spheres Of Chaos (I prefer the older version over 2012’s rejig but YMMV, they’re both available for free now) and Echoes (Again. I prefer + to 3 but honestly. It’s so close in quality as to be unimportant), Debris Infinity (available on Steam too) is certainly worth a mention also.

After being mildly disappointed by the recent Asteroids Recharged (it’s not a bad game but it did very little to excite me, I wouldn’t not recommend it but I’d not enthuse over it in a hurry either) I’ve been on the look out for a fresh & decent new arcade take on Asteroids and stumbled onto Debris Infinity pretty much by accident whilst rummaging for something else I’d forgotten the name of.

It’s a game that fuses, surprisingly successfully, Echoes style arena based asteroid shooting and familiar Geometry Wars enemy wave patterns across a handful of modes. So twin stick asteroids with bolt ons, essentially. I doubt anyone going into this, even having not played either of the games it borrows from, would find many surprises here.

It’s definitely scrappy! The art is a bit all over the shop both in style and in coherence, the asteroids and smaller enemies are great, it’s sort of just the rest of it that doesn’t always come together.

Which is fine, you know? I’m not complaining so much as just stating something rather obvious. I can’t say it bothered me even for a moment because I was far too busy trying not to crash my spaceship into things but it does mean it doesn’t present quite so well in a single screenshot.

So, it all kind of adds up to a game I enjoyed a lot but also, don’t really have all that much to talk about with it. It’s a good, solid, enjoyable Asteroids variant where everything glows really nicely and has enough flashing lights to keep me quiet.

I’ve been dipping in and out of it on the Switch but the game’s available most other places, except for PlayStation for whatever reason. Definitely worth a punt.

Weapon Of Choice

It's a dude, on top of a giant snake/sandworm thing. It's really hard to describe how ridiculous this screenshot from Weapon Of Choice actually is.

If I could make just one videogame thing happen that wasn’t Alcatraz Harry 3, it would be for the bulk of XBLIG games to have a continued lease of life.

Happily, a number have escaped their confines and exist in ways people can play them much, much, much more easily in 2021 so it’s not a complete write off. I would always like more, you know?

Amongst the absolute best XBLIG work, in my entirely less than humble opinion, is the work of Mommy’s Best games. They’re dead good, all of them (though I confess, I bought but haven’t gotten round to putting decent time into Pig Eat Ball yet. What I have played of it is wild.)

It’s saying something when Weapon Of Choice is, to my mind, the least good of all of them and it is very good. I’d do murders to have a body of work that strong myself.

Perhaps it feeling less good to me is that in 2021 there’s a whole load of run and gun games, though my experience has largely been of the more retro ones, and that the ‘death brushing’ (the game adjusts when you’re about to have a nasty moment so as to give you a chance) is routine now where when Weapon Of Choice launched, it felt remarkably fresh. Well, for the genre anyway.

I cannot stress enough, it’s not that it’s aged badly – it hasn’t – it’s just wow, we have a lot of games now eh. And the small point that the games from the Mommy’s Best stable just got better and better and better and no less wild.

I’m writing this now because this morning I was super chuffed to find that Weapon Of Choice is now available on a whole bunch of modern consoles to play and it’s silly cheap to boot. Definitely the good kind of surprise when opening PSN for a gander this morning.

I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It’s a game that doesn’t screenshot well but running through the stages and encountering whatever thing comes next, it feels vibrant and alive in a way I wish every game could be.

The enemies are ridiculous, just completely ridiculous. Love ’em. Ah, what am I talking about? I love all of it. I didn’t quite get it the first time I looked at it and reviewed it on release but past me being wrong isn’t exactly a revelation these days.

Weapon Of Choice, then. Definitely my weapon of choice. For the budget price especially, it’s a lot of good game for not much money.

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