Super Ox Wars is a shooter by Llamasoft, aka Jeff Minter and Ivan "Giles" Zorzin, which in a just world would be all the description required for this to shift truckloads. It is, true to form, another wonderful game, but it's also one that begs an overwhelming question of the studio's ongoing output. Let's phrase it like this - is an overarching aesthetic a studio's identity, or can it become a comfort zone?
But let's tackle the game first. Super Ox Wars is another classic Minter fusion, a vertically scrolling 2D shooter (think Star Soldier with Galaga attack patterns) intertwined with a power-up and scoring system built on chaining. The twist here is that there are two paths to follow, represented by oxen deities, and overwhelming 'loyalty' to each one results in different and increasingly OTT upgrades. In-game it's immediately obvious how this works; there are red and blue elements, and you want to pick one to concentrate on.
This scoring system controls how each game of Super Ox Wars plays out, with the aim always being to reach maximum firepower of either colour. This happy state fills the screen with red hearts or blue stars, wasting everything before it gets a chance to shoot back. Each colour has its own attack patterns, but also affects the behaviour of enemy bullets differently; if you're blue then bullets are repelled by the ship's body, slowing down then pushed away, letting you move slowly through glowing thickets. Go red and your bullets repel enemy fire, which works in a more aggressive manner - you have to play this almost like pushing through the crowd in Geometry Wars.