- PSN Minis - Ł2.49
- Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers.
Two ships, two hands, one brain. What's a multitasking-deficient soul to do in the face of dozens of red and blue alien invaders? Panic, that's what.
But in the face of intense provocation, it appears that it is possible to indulge in retro shooting's equivalent of patting your head while rubbing your tummy without it all going to pot.
Unlike ye olde traditional Space Invaders, Laughing Jackal's twist on the formula has you blasting at the red and blue alien foes from either side.
To make matters more interesting, an aggro system known as 'Skew' makes the aliens more angry if you shoot enemies that match the colour of your ship. The angrier they get, the more points you score. The more points you score, the more attractive you become to the opposite sex.
The multitasking process is made substantially easier by assigning the respective fire buttons to the shoulder buttons. With only up and down to focus on, the process of juggling your attention between the two ships is much easier than it initially appears. Too easy, in fact.
After thirty-odd rounds of Dućl Invading, it becomes increasingly apparent that a Game Over screen isn't going to appear any time soon. With extra lives spewing out at a rate of knots, it seems like the difficulty level wasn't quite as finely tuned as it could have been.
Strania – The Stellar Machina
- Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Points
If Dućl Invaders is designed as a confidence booster, then Strania is here to remind us that, deep down, we're all pathetic narcissists that need taking down a peg or two.
Yes, G.rev's Xbox Live debut is one firmly designed to test the mettle of vertical shmup veterans that enjoy nothing more than to dance around a curtain of bullets singing That's When I Reach For My Revolver.
If you're looking for compromises, don't bother. You kick off proceedings able to take just three hits from the enemy before you perish, and can continue the game just twice from where you left off before you have to shuffle off back to the beginning. In G.rev's world, if you're not good enough, tough. Get better or go home.
For the kind of soul who thrives on these routinely unkind affairs, then there's much to admire. The visuals retain a vibrant late-nineties soul, and each stage is a finely choreographed, embattled thrill, designed to test your memory for patterns as much as your twitch abilities. You might not quite ever enter bullet hell, but this game has its own ways of making the journey uncomfortable.
Success also comes down to smart weapon loadout and selection. As each power-up drifts past, it's up to you to decide which ones suit the situation best, and you'll frequently get it all horribly wrong. The bizarre sword melee attack might prove effective in some confined sections, while others, like the side lasers or the homing missiles, allow you to strike from a safe distance.
Whether Strania's trial-and-error-heavy formula will appeal is easy enough to find out thanks to the free demo. Whether you'll want to take this punishing relationship any further will come down to good old fashioned raw skill. Show G.rev what you can do, and it might even let you beyond the third stage. Might.