You might look at Galak-Z and wonder what needs adding. Here is procedural deep-space dogfighting with roguelike elements, lurid acid-belching foes, gorgeous hand-drawn explosions, and the ability, when things get tough, to transform yourself from a nimble little starfighter and into a giant mech clutching a laser katana. With The Void DLC, though, 17-Bit returns to its Saturday-cartoon universe with a precision retooling in mind. It's come to add an endless mode and, with it, a daily run.
This one caught our eye. Broforce is a gleefully bombastic 2D side-scrolling shooter in the Contra tradition - and available this month for free to PlayStation Plus members. However, it hasn't launched in the best of states, and its variable performance is a stumbling block to enjoying the experience we'd like. We're talking about a game that's designed to run at 60fps, but as shown in our video below, can (and very much will) drop all the way down to the teens. So what exactly is going on, and why might PS4 performance be struggling as it is?
Oh, this is new. When you die in Galak-Z - and you will, you will - the Game Over screen offers a rather chilling sight: your cheery 80's sci-fi space helmet tumbling through the cosmos bound for parts unknown, paint missing and screen cracked. Death is new, too, of course, at least this kind of death is. Since its unveiling at E3 in 2013, Galak-Z has changed in a very interesting manner, switching from a 2D dog-fighting open-world space game to a 2D dog-fghting roguelike space game. A juke to the left, and it alters pretty much everything.
You don't slice through space in Galak-Z: The Dimensional. You tumble. It's a controlled kind of madness, really: a precision burst of the thrusters carrying you forward before you then pivot - facing up, down, backwards - to bestow showers of sparking laser fire on whatever most needs to be blown to pieces.
Homing missiles send clutches of fizzing contrails spiralling out behind them. Anime meteors explode in fat bursts of gas and debris. The shimmering interior walls of a hollow moon glow purple, then deep organic green and then warm, bubbling orange. For an instant, the carnage veers close to a pool of lava that sizzles beneath you, and in front of you, and even curves high over your head, too. Meanwhile, enemy fighters swarm and multiply in the shadows, ghosting outwards in daisy chains and scattering to dodge or to flank. Then you tumble away again, into the next dust cloud, onto the next battleground. It's amazing what you can get done in five seconds.
Jake Kazdal makes games that get right inside a genre, and then expand that genre's boundaries in unexpected ways. Skulls of the Shogun offered tactical battling that was as sharply honed as the glinting blade of its hero's katana, but it sped things up too, introducing players to a turn-based game that moved at the pace of an arcade classic. With Galak-Z, it's arcade classics themselves that get a reinvention. Kazdal's new space shooter has been created to evoke the kind of coin-op thrills he experienced playing at the greasy cabinets in his dad's pizza parlour when he was a kid, but he also wants to work on a larger scale. Asteroids and Centipede both get a name-checking - but so do Fallout 3, Rogue Legacy, Metroid, and GTA. Space-based dog-fighting in a procedural, flattened-out cosmos. Is this the first open-universe game?