Here's a little confession for you: I have always been a huge fan of games like Robotron 2084, Smash TV and Total Carnage. For years I was hopefully that one day we would see the rebirth of this style of game play, where you used two separate controls to move your character around and shoot in all directions. I simply couldn't understand why nobody decided to make a proper sequel to Smash TV or at least attempt some sort of rip-off. And then Geometry Wars hit and all of a sudden it felt like all of my dreams had been answered. Developers finally saw the light and all of these Robotron-esque titles started to make an appearance. Life was good.
But here we are several years later and it feels like everybody is doing some sort of Smash TV rip-off. On the Xbox Live Arcade alone there are at least a half dozen games that fall into this category, none of them improving on the greatness of Robotron or Geometry Wars. I've played so many half-assed Smash TV clones that even I'm starting to grow tired of this style of game play. Something needs to change, there definitely needs to be a game that can jump start this genre again. A game that will remind everybody how fun and addictive those old school arcade games were. I have found that game, and it's called Everyday Shooter.
Everyday Shooter is developed by independent game developer Jonathan Mak, who combines all of the fun and excitement of Geometry Wars with the music-inspired gameplay of Rez. At first glance it may look like just another shooter in the spirit of Robotron, but once you sit down with Everyday Shooter you will see that it's something completely different, something very deep and original. Everyday Shooter is that rare breed of video game that gets both the action and music elements down.
In Everyday Shooter you play a small dot who must navigate its way around a wide open world full of strange bad guys shooting everything in sight. To survive this onslaught it's important to figure out the game's combo system, which will help clear out large portions of bad guys and make it easier for you to get around safely. The problem is each level has its own combo system, so it's up to you to learn the best ways of clearing out the enemies. The concept is simple enough, but like Geometry Wars and other similar titles, Everyday Shooter ramps up the difficulty as you beat the levels and stay alive.
What sets Everyday Shooter apart from a lot of the other action packed shooters is its innovative use of music. Every character you kill and every combo you make will trigger some sort of musical effect, ultimately complimenting the overall soundtrack playing in the background. What struck me from playing the preview build is that all of these notes you get from killing your foes actually sound good when combined with the music, instead of being some chaotic mix of annoying sounds, the notes you create feel like they belong in the song. The way that you interact with the background music is mesmerizing; it's definitely one of the best uses of music I've seen in a video game.
Even though every level has its own look, song and combo system, they all end up playing out pretty much the same way. There's a little bar at the bottom of the screen that shows you how far you are through the level, it's your job to stay alive (and pick up as many points) as long as possible. If you can make it to the end of the song you will be transported to the next stage, which offers you new enemies, a new background, and, of course, a brand new song. Too often in action games you'll lose on the third or fourth level and get so frustrated that you won't want to go through it again right away, but I found that in Everyday Shooter I couldn't wait to go back through the levels and relive the songs and see if I could get further. I was so entranced by the music and backgrounds that I simply had to see what was next.
The level designs are simply gorgeous; it's hard to believe that they were developed by one person and not a major video game developer. Even more impressive is that the levels will actually change depending on where you move and where you attack. The entire game looks and feels very polished; the fact that you play a small dot won't matter when you see all of the bad guys and effects that litter the screen.
Apparently I'm not the only one who sees the beauty and potential of Everyday Shooter, Jonathan Mak is coming off of winning several awards at the Independent Games Festival at this year's Game Developers Conference. If what I played of the preview build is any indication of what the final product will look like, then I can't wait to sink my teeth into the finished version of Everyday Shooter. Expect a full review and more coverage on this innovative game as its release date nears.