By Kieron Gillen on May 23rd, 2008 at 10:39 am.
Before I return to reviewing Mass Effect – next week on EG, comrades – I cleared my head by annihilating a mass of pixels, as is my wont. Smiley’s Shooty Adventure is the excellently named Caffine Monster Software‘s first game and is a Robotron-styled arena-shooter with mouse combat, co-op and assorted Minter-esque pixel-annihilation. I bloody hate pixels. If you hate pixels, you should get the demo and punch them in their guts. It also oddly reminds me in parts of a game I programmed in Easy Amos back in the day called Blimey!, but that’s probably the sort of irrelevancy which gets RPS a bad reputation. My take on it, beneath the cut.
It’s an interesting compare and contrast with War Twat actually. Both arena shooters, both with a splash of the Minter-isms, both… well, both not exactly what I want them to be. Smiley’s Shooty Adventure is much more a Proper Game, whatever that means though – Game Twat’s twatting of the frontal lobe is the point. It’s the Digital Hardcore aesthetic – with inserted silliness- applied to the Robotron shooter. Smiley’s is just a bit sedentary for an extended play for me.
Which is a tad hard, as I enjoyed the hour or so I’ve just spent with it. That it goes to town with the features helps too – it’s chosen to develop its idea as far as it can go. So, as well as the eighty-mission campaign mode, there’s a challenge and speed-run stuff. The challenge just throws endless enemies at you in waves, for example. There’s a Versus mode – which is what reminds me most of Blimey! – where two players are trapped in an arena with monsters. They can’t shoot each other, but a large puck can be blasted and propelled around. Hit your opponent and splattage ensues. And, best of all, you can play co-op – on a single machine – in any of the modes. Except Versus, as that’d be silly.
I also like how your Smiley character smiles even wider when you complete a level. It’s good to see a sprite chuffed, y’know?
My reservations are ones where its good taste plays against itself. Minor things like all enemies needing multiple shots to take down means that it never feels as crisp as my favourite shooters tend to, the constant need to concentrate fire leaves me feeling somewhat lumpen. There’s a combo-multiplier system, where regular deaths increase the points you receive – but with the slow deaths, I never managed to climb above x3… and when you’re going for a combo multiplier approach, part of the fun is in pinball-high scores rather that something a little more sensible. Even stuff like the pixel effects seem a little restrained – it’s a genre which I like best as a sports car, and this seems like it’s in cruise mode. Clearly, I haven’t completed it, but even if eventually it goes completely insane, the slow build up is another symptom.
That said, there’s a lot of me showing in the last paragraph. It may not be my favoured approach, but it’s certainly an approach of its own. For a more relaxed approach to the most adrenalised of genres, you can try out the demo.