Stuff I bought instead of Perfect Dark, No.2
At first glance, Decimation X (80 MS Points, about 61p) looks like just an pumped-to-the-max version of Space Invaders for up to four players. But in fact, there's a lot more to it than that – it's actually an pumped-to-the-max version of Space Invaders for up to four players that also… wait, no.
Sorry, my mistake. In fact it IS just a pumped-to-the-max version of Space Invaders for up to – well, you get the idea, right?
But man, WHAT a pumped-to-the-max version of Space Invaders for up to four players this is. Starting off fairly sedately, it turns everything up to 11 pretty quickly, then paints a whole bunch of extra numbers onto the dial. Within minutes you'll be spewing out literally hundreds of bullets at a time, and dodging even more. The screen becomes a blizzard of particle effects and death, but clever use of colour ensures that you can always see the incoming fire clearly, and the effect is hypnotic.
(It actually reminds me of a really obscure old Spectrum game I love, called Storm Fighters. It gets quite a lot more exciting than it looks in those pictures, honest.)
The graphics, while highly functional, are the least attractive aspect of Decimation X. They look like an Amiga PD game, and something much more abstract and minimalist would probably have worked better – some classic Geometry Wars neon vectors, maybe, or simple glowing block shapes.
The most impressive facet, on the other hand, is the game's balancing. In one-player mode your accumulation of power-ups (extra bullets, spread fire, rapid fire, bonus points and two types of shields) is matched expertly with ever-fiercer alien battalions, and every wave is a challenge – you're constantly tempted to get yourself in danger for a juicy weapon boost to stay that crucial one jump ahead.
As a terminal sociopath I haven't played the multiplayer game yet (there's no online), but I reckon it'll be tremendous, with lots of opportunities for co-operation and treachery. I can also hardly imagine what the screen is going to look like 20 levels in with four players pouring out vast streams of bullets. But this is first and foremost a terrific one-player game that makes you desperate to see the next level, even though you know it's going to be the same as the last one.
(I was sceptical about that at first, as the free trial version is enough to get you through 15 stages and I couldn't see where it was going to go to justify buying the full one, but no matter how insane the action gets you always want to take it up one more notch. And, y'know, 61p.)
It's the best pumped-to-the-max Space Invaders for up to four players ever!
WoSblog high score: 1,908,646. (No online leaderboards yet, but they're promised soon.) And yeah, I am calling you a puff.