A Shooting Star - Star Hunter DX (Steam) Review

What are the odds that a developer would be tempted to craft a game so beloved as R-Type and Gradius in this day in age? I would surmise, however, that Star Hunter DX was created to anchor the gameplay in a genre rich in culture and yet argue for more design flexibility in place of rigid tradition. That’s the likely premise of Star Hunter DX and on its own merits, it does a very good job.

Indie developer, 1CC Games, was wise to expand on the universe of the bullet-hell genre, which takes place exactly as you would imagine: in space with almost anything and everything hell-bent on taking you out. The clever idea behind the game is that it pays homage to the shooters of the 16 & 32-bit eras while adding its own unique twist. In other words, it is all retro-inspired, addicting, and challenging.

On the surface, the game might not look different, but it does have a lot of things going on in a larger more dramatic scale. The graphical effects when filling up the screen, for example, is to deceive the eyes, not insult them.

Though Star Hunter DX may look easy due to its simple graphics and level design, in theory, it does take some skill and quick reflexes to be successful. Taking my impressions straight from the first four or five levels, I often wondered why 1CC Games just didn't make a true sequel to R-Type or Gradius. Then it struck me that doing so would be too gimmicky and probably be of no fun. Instead, they took the addictive gameplay of those two classics and combined it with their own unique gameplay elements, visuals, and soundtrack.

The back story has you taking the role of Luna, a space pirate seeking vengeance on her former crew after they turn on her leaving her to fend for herself. Despite its simple story, there's some style on display here. While the familiar gameplay scrolls from left to right, there are glimmers of well-orchestrated level design that I did appreciate.

Blasting away at enemy ships allows you to go into bullet-time where the enemy projectiles slow down and turn into gold gems while your ship maintains its speed and momentum. But deciding whether to go into bullet-time or face the onslaught of enemy fire to accrue massive amounts of points is something you'll need to decide on and choreograph. On that note, regardless of how you want to play, be prepared for what's to come as Star Hunter DX is as tough and challenging as they come.

I would surmise, however, that Star Hunter DX was created to anchor the gameplay in a genre rich in culture and yet argue for more design flexibility in place of rigid tradition. That’s the likely premise of Star Hunter DX and on its own merits, it does a very good job.

While the game often bordered on insanity (imagine being in the center of the screen with enemy missiles, lasers, and bombs all around you), it did manage to pique my interest enough to write my thoughts on it.

On the surface, the game might not look different, but it does have a lot of things going on in a larger more dramatic scale. The graphical effects when filling up the screen, for example, is to deceive the eyes, not insult them.

It's admirable that a developer would offer such nostalgic ambiguity in their game that it makes the experience genuinely good-hearted; and because of these good-hearted attempts, I'm more than willing to follow this talented team on their creative journey. Grab a copy of Star Hunter DX when you can. It won't disappoint.

Slick RicK Got Game! Rick Henderson (Steam) Review

What Rick Henderson does right and what so few shooters manage to do today is that it provides a Zen-like moment when you suddenly realize that you are in the SHMUP (shoot 'em up) zone. When you're transformed from a panicked underpowered little aluminum bucket to an unstoppable heap of pixel destruction, you know you're playing a shooter that's really, really good.

It's the adrenaline equivalent of a runner's high and many shooters like R-Type and Gradius had it in spades. And Rick Henderson from indie developer, Fat Plug Studios, is proving that they also have what it takes to compete with the big boys.

As usual, the structure of Rick Henderson is somewhat elegant in its simplicity. An evil force must be stopped, and so three pilots get together and form an unexpectedly powerful team by combining their unique skill sets. As there’s not much to the narrative of a game like this one, its success or failure comes down to gameplay execution.

You choose from one of three characters each with their own specific attributes. Rick Henderson is the preferred character/pilot by default, so I opted to go with him. The first few levels allow you to get familiar with the controls and nuances of the game. After you've completed a level, you are faced with the obligatory end-boss that you must vanquish in order to progress to the next zone.

Gems, perks, and powerups litter the field creating a unique experience since you can equip your weapons with enhancements to cause even more destruction. There's also an RPG-lite element where you can choose what traits you want to upgrade. The game creates the kind of nostalgia I had as a teenager, playing through shooters at the local arcade. There are moments when it even stirs a little awe. Rick Henderson is a pure slam-bam-in-your-face space opera turned into epic battles. The only drawback is that the game is too short and a competent player can literally blast through the game pretty quickly.

Many of its galactic visuals are pleasant to the eyes in the same way photos of deep space are beautiful as they show a careful hand casting of colors and energy across the unimaginable expanses of space, using stars and nebulas as its backdrop.

The gameplay might be standard fare, yet it has the qualities that a good game can generate: It isn't just action and warfare, but also a play of classic ideas. Many of its galactic visuals are pleasant to the eyes in the same way photos of deep space are beautiful as they show a careful hand casting of colors and energy across the unimaginable expanses of space, using stars and nebulas as its backdrop.

Rick Henderson as a shooter works because it doesn't do more than what it sets out to do. There is a sense of wonder here and getting to the endgame is well worth the journey. I like the retro-inspired graphics because I believe it provides an additional dimension for its presentation as it frees the developer from the anchor of realism that's built into 3D polygons and allows them to visualize their imaginations.

Rick Henderson was designed to totally immerse you in the experience and to make it irresistibly addictive. Whether you're new to the shoot 'em up genre or a veteran looking to relive your best gaming moments, go ahead and give this game a shot. Slick Rick won't disappoint.

A Shooters Paradise - Jets 'N' Guns 2 PC Review

To play Jets 'N' Guns 2 is to be painfully teased. It's like dreaming about Jennifer Lopez but waking up to George Lopez instead. It's so unfair!

Jets 'N' Guns 2 is so good, but so damn short it will literally drive you mad. Developer Rake in Grass really knows how to make games that are fun, challenging, and really nice to look at and this one is no exception. JNG 2 has everything going for it: the graphics are top-notch, the music is awesome, and the levels are all brilliantly designed.

In typical shooter lore, an evil empire has taken over the world and it's up to a few brave pilots to bring down the evil menace to its knees and restore peace back to the galaxies. The story and setting are as old as time, but it doesn't really matter, especially when you have gameplay that is so addicting that the only thing you'll focus on is blasting everything in sight to get to the next level.

Jets 'N' Guns 2 pits you against everything that an evil space empire has to offer, including some rather impressive-looking enemy bosses. Armored fortresses, laser-powered gunships, and mechanized robots add to the excitement. After each successful mission, you'll earn points that you can use to purchase weapons, upgrades, and enhancements to outfit your armaments and ship.

Overall, Jets 'N' Guns 2 is one of the most impressive shooters to hit the PC in a long time.
As you can see, the visuals are stunning

Despite the game being on the short side, the gameplay was everything I hoped it would be and more.

A Space Opera

The gameplay focuses squarely on frenzied fun, but the graphics are the icing on this cake. Rake in Grass has managed to push the envelope on almost every 3D trick in the book, with staggering results.

Alien ships don't just explode, they shatter in a series of fiery bone-rattling shockwaves. Destroy an overhanging turret and watch it precariously teeter before collapsing down the landscape below destroying everything beneath it. The gorgeous graphics are simply breathtaking, especially in motion.

While the enemy vessels attack in swarms they don't exhibit much offensive intelligence, so at times the action plays out like any other shooter but on steroids. Fortunately, the levels have a lot of variety which helps keep the challenges fresh and exciting.

The music and sound effects are both exceptionally well done. In fact, this is one of the few games that I didn't have to go to the options menu to turn off the heavy metal soundtrack. Instead, you're treated to a high-fidelity techno symphony that compliments the action perfectly.

Overall, Jets 'N' Guns 2 is one of the most impressive shooters to hit the PC in a long time.
TIP: Drop bombs on structures to reveal secret passages

Shooter Fans Rejoice!

Overall, Jets 'N' Guns 2 is one of the most impressive shooters to hit the PC in a long time. It's deeper, more gripping, and offers the best gaming experience you can buy for under $20.

Despite the game being on the short side, the gameplay was everything I hoped it would be and more. If you're looking for some hot shooting action with graphics to die for, pick this one up. It doesn't get any better.