Version tested: Wii
The Wii-propelled renaissance of the on-rails shooter is in no way unwelcome. Both Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles and House of the Dead: Overkill have reawakened an affection for laying uncomplicated waste to the undead that had lain dormant since the golden days of lightgun games.
What's more, Sin and Punishment 2's awe-inspiring screenfuls of pretty bullets and three-pronged whale assaults remind us that this can be an insanely creative and visually gobsmacking genre.
For its part, 530 Eco Shooter is an eyebrow-raising concept - blasting away at sentient rubbish with a recycling gun sounds like it might be fun - and the fact it's been put together by Intelligent Systems, of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem fame, had our radars twitching. But sadly it's no milestone on the road of the on-rails shooter renaissance. In fact, it's actually a bit rubbish.
The irony of 530 Eco Shooter is not lost on us - it closely follows Nintendo's abysmal Greenpeace write-up, in which the company earned a career-worst 1.4 out of 10. Evidently the price of worldwide success is tonnes of planet-killing toxic emissions.
530 Eco Shooter is loosely based around recycling, taking you through levels full of rubbish that needs shooting, but it's not a simple clean-up operation. Shot once, the sentient cans or barrels fall lifelessly to the ground, and you have to shoot them again to destroy them and harvest 'recycling energy' for your gun.
Shooting uses up energy, as does getting hit by empty soft-drink and sardine cans, so the idea is to expend as few shots on eliminating garbage as possible, industriously stocking up on gun energy in preparation for the boss battle. You shoot everything once for points and once again for energy - rapid-fire is an extremely bad idea in all but the most desperate circumstances, as it drains energy at an alarming rate.
530 Eco Shooter's sense of pace is frankly bizarre. Rather than trying frantically to keep pace with screenfuls of enemies and projectiles, you spend much of your time shooting patiently at already-dead rubbish in order to hoover up glowing orbs.
The strange energy economy means the game is unexpectedly demanding at first, before you realise that shooting wildly at everything on the screen won't get you anywhere. Even once you've grasped the game's simple but weird principles it's never easy.
This is partly because the enemies are all just cans and barrels rather than a more exciting menagerie of rubbish, and it's sometimes difficult to pick them out from the brown-and-grey backgrounds, or distinguish the aggressive rubbish from the lifeless. 530 Eco Shooter could have instantly made itself more interesting by giving us more varied things to shoot - having rogue shopping trolleys or flying bits of Big Mac to blast at would make it far less boring to look at, too.
At the end of each of the game's three levels, there's a boss battle. Unfortunately it's the same boss battle three times - it just gets slightly harder. Cans and barrels come together to form a rubbish Megazord with flashing red weak-points and an arsenal of difficult-to-see sardine-can projectiles.
You have to collect a lot of energy from the preceding levels to be able to survive the boss fights, mostly because the camera starts veering around wildly without leaving you any time to harvest energy. It's hard, but mainly for the wrong reasons - you can't see what's being thrown at you until it's milliseconds away from hitting you in the face.
Despite the difficulty, it only took me about 45 minutes to get through 530 Eco Shooter's three levels. That's not a bad runtime for what's essentially a lightgun game, but it costs a 1000 Wii Points. Seven pounds for three levels? Really? That works out at 15.5p per minute of average entertainment.
Making it through every level only unlocks the opportunity to play them all in a row, which isn't something you'll be particularly grateful for, and the absence of online leaderboards or multiplayer gives 530 Eco Shooter zero replay value. Surely it wouldn't have been difficult to add an extra cursor to the screen. You're paying for an absolute maximum of maybe two hours of passable fun, assuming it takes more than two goes to get through the levels and you come back to replay them once or twice to beat the pre-set high scores.
If only 530 Eco Shooter were remotely nice to look at, it might be easier to forgive, but the levels look awful. Admittedly they're supposed to be industrial wastelands, but they could have been brighter. There could also be more interesting things to shoot at than twitching barrels. There aren't even any cut-scenes save a rubbish one at the very beginning.
There's none of the chaos, tension, explosions and visual feedback that usually give games in this genre their adrenaline kick. The music is dreadful mid-nineties midi guitar, too - it's not even comfortingly retro, it's just terrible. It's 2010, people, we have touch-screen phones and giant flat-screen televisions and dancing robots. We don't need midi music any more.
With one weapon, no multiplayer, no leaderboards and little replay value, 530 Eco Shooter doesn't exactly represent good value for money, and the drab presentation doesn't endear it either. The energy system is an interesting twist, forcing you to be economical with your bullets, but ultimately it's about an hour of confusing entertainment for £7.
On a console that's hardly lacking in excellent on-rails shooters - Darkside Chronicles and the soon-to-be-released Sin and Punishment 2 among them - and interesting, lovely-looking downloadable games, 530 Eco Shooter has no place.
5 / 10