Graceful Explosion Machine shmup blasts off

Graceful Explosion machine

Side-scrolling shoot ’em up Graceful Explosion Machine [official site], out this week, has one of the better combat systems I’ve seen in the genre. Your spaceship has four weapons to cut down the waves of blobby enemies: a simple blaster that can overheat and three flashier weapons (including a devastating missile launcher) that use up energy, which you collect from dead enemies. So, you’ve got to balance aggression with conserving your resources, and it’s a neat internal tug-of-war.

It’s pretty hectic, too, with lots of enemies on screen at one time, and in its latter stages is pretty damn hard. This is all from playing the PlayStation 4 version, by the way, but I can’t imagine it’d be any different on PC (although you should definitely play with a gamepad).

Here’s a trailer to give you an idea:

The levels, of which there are 36 across four themed worlds, are all infinite loops, so it doesn’t matter if you head left or right. You can even stay in one spot: enemies will spawn around you and once you’ve killed a certain number the stage ends.

Its longevity comes in chasing high scores and competing with your friends atop the leaderboards. If that’s your bag then you can buy it on Steam for a 10% discount until Tuesday at £8.99/11,69€/$11.69.

And if you’re a fan of the genre, it could be worth reading this ode to shmups that Wasim wrote in 2015 using short, mechanical sentences. I just stumbled across it and really enjoyed it.


  1. mepto says:

    Ah yes, only on steam and no doubt in all likelihood only to be played with an xbox controller. Could the press and community please stop pretending like DirectInput doesn’t exist anymore and my logitech is useless? Because it isn’t, just because MS has poured millions into establishing their peripherical monopoly. Oh also, what kind of PC gamers are we that we now recommend a shooter be played with a controller? Ever heard of a keyboard? Or is that not normal anymore now that everyone uses their stupid steamboxes in the living room and uses xpads to play games (because anything else won’t work) and the ones sitting on a chair instead of a couch are now the minority of uncool backwards nerds?

    • UncleLou says:

      “Oh also, what kind of PC gamers are we that we now recommend a shooter be played with a controller? Ever heard of a keyboard?”

      What kind of PC gamers are we that we insist on using a keyboard? It is an unfit input device for so many genres. I don’t know where these m/kb-warriors come from. It is not *my* generation of PC gamers, that much is certain.

      PCs have always been about versatility, about picking the right tool for the job, not about insisting on the most idiotic one. You’d have been laughed out of every lan party in the 1990s if you only had m/kb at your disposal.

      • mepto says:

        The versatility to use xpads, only xpads and no other controller ever you mean? It used to be “controller” support, now it’s xbox support. With the default mappings shown on an xpad even if other controllers are supported. MS has ruined controllers.

        • MajorLag says:

          Yeah, this is pretty silly. XInput supports exactly one controller. I personally find it incredibly annoying whenever I run across an XInput-only game. You may as well have hard-coded the keyboard like this: link to

          K+M is the native control scheme of a PC, support for it is not optional and therefore should not be awful. PC gaming is all about choice. We pay $1k+ for a rig with our choice of video card, ram, processor, etc. so we expect to be able to use the controller of our choosing too. If you make your game XInput-only, you’re telling us you don’t care about our experience as players.

          Oh, we’ll work around it for sure, IIRC Steam even has a built-in way to map any controller to XInput now, and there’s always JoyToKey, but we shouldn’t have to do that and if you force us to then we are right to feel insulted. Just as we’re right to feel insulted when you lock your console port to 30FPS and only support higher-than-original resolutions through aspect-ignorant stretching.

        • Mo says:

          Hi there, just wanted to clarify a few things:

          – GEM supports keyboard input, and it works pretty well. I much prefer playing with a gamepad, and it’s what we recommend using, but some of our testers swear by keyboard controls.

          – GEM supports XB360, XB1, PS3 and PS4 controllers, the Steam Controller, and a few others (including the Logitech F710 Gamepad), not just XInput controllers. I realise it would be ideal to support every controller, but I think we’ve covered the majority of users.

          – GEM dynamically switches button prompts depending on the active input (including differentiating between Xbox and PlayStation face buttons, and of course there are keyboard prompts)

          – In fullscreen mode, GEM runs at your monitor’s native resolution and refresh rate. The game will letterbox if said resolution is not 16:9 for fairness/balance reasons.

          I hope that helps! :)

          • mepto says:

            So, serious question: Is DirectInput that much harder to just throw at old controllers? I have a rumblepad 2. Why should I buy a newer one?

    • UncleLou says:

      “and the ones sitting on a chair instead of a couch are now the minority of uncool backwards nerds”

      Hell yes, we are. I hope that doesn’t surprise you.

  2. NelsonMinar says:

    I’ve been playing this on PS4 and it’s not very good. The problem is every level is just like the previous levels. At least all 10 world 1 levels and the first five world 2 levels, I won’t bother to play more. The enemy spawns change so the challenge differs a bit, but your ship and the environment are static. It’s pretty dull.