Picking up where the train of thoughts the previous video began, I was cued in to all the neat freebies there were on the XBLA, including most notably for the timing which ones featured online play.
This train of thought led our quest for online shenanigans to another unlikely tale of a game being made free to all who would take up such an offer. Aegis Wing, as its initial loading screen states, this was the result of the efforts of three Microsoft interns... and apparently also the audiovisual resources provided by now-defunct first-party Microsoft Casual Games developer Carbonated Games just to give it that extra polished look and feel.
The result, yet again (and I mean, it wouldn't be on my upload queue if I didn't at least feel there was some merit to it) is a game that is surprisingly developed and satisfying for such a small-scale title.
This game is a scrolling space shooter game, more specifically of the right-to-left variety. I have something of an odd history with this sort of game... I love what they fundamentally stand for, a very simple and inherently gratifying gameplay progression with all the necessary visceral pleasure of shooting things and making them go boom built-in to the game itself.
The "problem" comes in when things will invariably need to get intense (a game isn't interesting if it never shakes things up or tries to stop you from succeeding right?) and there are only really so many ways that this can be accomplished. Generally, things get either faster or more filled with death-causing objects... or both. I'm not really qualified to point out which of these is most likely to escalate my frustration past the enjoyment threshold, but it can be reasonably assumed that the ultimate result is that I'm only a moderately acceptable pilot and certain games are designed with more skilled players in mind.
So I guess what I'm saying is that to earn my enjoyment, a game must provide conflict without crushing my fragile hopes like so much space dust into the abyss by dancing on the razor's edge of what I can and can't handle. Maybe if I actually played these things more than recreationally, I'd get more out of the genre as a whole... but NOPE, me-time is fun-time!
Oh, and I do enjoy once in awhile subjecting myself to the phenomenon known as "bullet hell," but my tolerance for such frantic action is somewhere between what you'll see in this game and the likes of Ikaruga, which is less about bullet hell and more about a fun gimmick about polarity-specific bullets than anything else, so that should give you an idea as to where I am on the sliding scales of hell and back... which isn't all that far up the food chain, but I consider it some small accomplishment that I can even begin to have an opinion on it. (...hooray?)
Stage 1: Turning Point
The game is relatively simple in its basic elements but can get just a little complex as things get more hectic. It's almost certainly on the "easier" side of things, so if you're a super shooter nut, you might find yourself bored, but the main draw here is the multiplayer capacity and the fact that it's a free game, dangit.
We won't see too much that's outside of normal expectations in this first stage, though, which is pretty nice of them... I'm glad that it doesn't give me much to explain or have to tell people that an explanation is forthcoming, because I used up all my description character limit just laying a groundwork.
The one thing that took me embarrassingly long to figure out was how the life bars worked. They're the little rings around each player's lives indicator, which basically reduces by a third each time you eat a bullet to the chassis. Once you're out of shields and you have a completely empty circle, you explode when you next take damage. If you touch a solid object or any sufficiently strong attack, you'll explode immediately.
There are six different powerups, not all of which will factor into this installment equally much:
-Shield (a green "coin" pickup): lets you create a shield around your ship which will turn any incoming hostile bullets into a burst of bullets fired from the point of impact back at enemies. It will eventually begin to blink and then disappear after a certain length of time.
-Missiles (a big cartoony missile pickup): unleashes a salvo of missiles that will individually home on any enemy they can find before they impact something or eventually disappear.
-EMP (a yellow box pickup): triggers a (nearly) invisible pulse from your current position, disabling enemy ships and erasing bullets in your vicinity.
-Laser (a blue box pickup): lets you fire a deadly laser beam directly forward from your position that will destroy any regular enemy regardless of its normal durability.
-Health (a red and white cross): refills your shields completely.
-Extra Life (a ship pickup): seems self-explanatory, but not in the way you'd think... this won't actually show up until a later installment in this series.