Retro City Rampage, VBlank Entertainment, 2012

I cannot WAIT for this game.

A Space Shooter For 2 Bucks! Review

This is probably the first (and as of yet only) game on the PSP/PS3’s “Minis” line, Sony’s somewhat troubled attempt at the indie game & app market that Apple is currently dominating right now.  I was gonna do a review of the PSN version of Angry Birds, but all I can muster about it is “Skip this ugly, buggy version and just get an iPhone to play it on for a quarter to none of the price.”

The game, as implied by its title, is straightforward. It doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, it just puts some bitchin’ rims on it.  A vertical-scrolling bullet-hell shooter that will keep you sidetracked for about 3-4 hours on the first play-through, and a little longer if you want to 100% the game.  The protagonist, Commander P. Jefferson, is a brutish, macho, obnoxious, one-liner spewing former school bully who now as an adult takes his aggression out on extraterrestrials in his rickety gunship  while assisted by a gentlemanly AI/comedic foil, Edward VI.  You can choose stages and acquire new weapons or armor once you beat bosses, Mega Man style.  You also earn currency to buy and upgrade weapons while harassing the shopkeeper/love interest, Jenna Velasquez.

The Pros:

  • It’s a Space Shooter! It’s basic, somewhat repetitive, and unoriginal, but it’s also tried-and-true. It’s definitely fun, and it can be played for hours or just minutes at a time.
  • It’s Two Bucks! While it isn’t that epic a game, it certainly has enough there to get lots of value out of two-hundred pennies.
  • It’s honest about what it is: ASS4$2 is a same that seems to revel in it’s shallowness, which borders between funny and annoying.  The game has an irreverent sense of humor, and even though the characters are mostly static pictures, the banter between the Commander and the other characters are often hilarious and worth listening to at least once.

The Cons:

  • Space Shooters aren’t perfect:  This genre may not be for everyone; it takes some time to getting used to, and there’s so many bullets and ships and items filling the screen you may be overwhelmed and not know which are good and which to avoid.  Also the game is more linear than it lets on.  The stage select screen shows the level of difficulty in each level and you’re pretty much going to have to play from easiest to hardest while strengthening your ship to adjust to the increasing difficulty.
  • This game has Space Bugs: There’s a really, REALLY irritating problem with the save system: sometimes when you finish a level it will revert the game to the state it was before you started the level, thus forcing you to play it all over again. This seems to happen at random (it happened to me at LEAST three times), and every review I’ve seen of this game reports this same problem, so it’s not just me. It doesn’t break the game, but it’s really infuriating when it happens.  I know video games are generally a big waste of time, but you shouldn’t actually FEEL like a game is wasting your time.

In short, this is a game that’s totally worth two bucks. And hopefully this means there will be more PSN Mini games that are worth anything in the future.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 Recommended!