Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Lee Davies
Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: Wii U exclusive
Take the pilot seat of the XType attack ship and defeat an ever growing enemy force in this uncompromising Shoot ‘em up, or so says the marketing manifesto for this game. That blurb, and the initial screenshots, made XType Plus sound immediately interesting to me, but was my initial optimism sustained for any length of time?
This game is cheap, a bargain-bin item, which may ring some alarm bells.
Options are limited to changing the volumes of the Sound Effects and the Music, that’s it. There is no option to play solely on the GamePad. There are only two Main Modes to play. Yet, don’t be disheartened by this bare bones approach, there is a solid bullet-riddled-hell twin-stick shooter at the core of this experience.
Your choice of the two main gameplay modes are Classic Mode and Plus Mode. Both modes are played out on a single unmoving black screen with procedurally generated bosses slowly descending from the top of the screen. A single boss appears at any one time, defeat it and another appears, and another, and another, and so on, until you die. As you can imagine the further you get, the harder the next boss. Move around your boss with the Left Analogue Stick. Shoot and aim with the Right Analogue Stick. That’s all there is to it. But, it’s this simplicity that makes it a game that is hard to put down. Just one try, pretty much sums up the feeling between the members of my household. On the Plus Mode you also have limited EMP bombs, that inflict absolutely no damage to the boss, but do give you a massive breathing space by eliminating all enemy projectiles on the screen. Press the Right Shoulder Trigger and the whole screen is clutter-free in a blink of the eye.
Classic Mode has the boss attacking you with slow moving yellow triangular missiles, fired in a straight trajectory, and red dots of death, radiating out from their point of origin. Things start easy on Levels 1 through 6, by Level 12 there are so many red dots and missiles flying in all directions XType Plus becomes a major test of reflexes and concentration. Aim for the core to destroy it, or take out its weapons first to make it easier to take that boss down. You are given multiplier bonuses for any remaining parts of the boss left upon its destruction, making this game a balancing act between safety and the removal of the enemy’s weapons, or a massive highscore with extra dodging and a greater sense of danger. Die three times and it’s Game Over.
For me, it’s in the Plus Mode where this game really shines. Its turns things around with an unlimited stock of lives, more difficult bosses with extra weapons, and EMP bombs, but has an ever present countdown timer. When the timer reaches zero it’s Game Over. Extra time can be acquired by defeating a Level, and time lost when a death is incurred. Add to this that Plus Mode is much faster, when going back to the Classic Mode the game feels sluggish. Plus Mode is where it’s at.
Both modes have ever present Online Leaderboards, which allow the ability to watch an entire replay of someone‘s awesome run (pressing A will speed things up considerably), as well as being able to catch up on what your friends have been up to.
The GamePad’s use is very limited. It shows you your remaining lives stock, how many bullets you have fired, and how many bullets you have dodged. These numbers get to insane levels. These seem useless on the GamePad’s screen as there is too much happening, at too fast a rate on the TV screen for only the slightest of glances down to the GamePad. When that happens none of the aforementioned will catch your eye, you will only see the white progress bar slowly making its way to your nearest friends highscore. Oh, that bar is nearly beating so and so, come on a few more points/levels. A nice touch for competitive play.
The Soundtrack is reminiscent of an eerie Metroid level. The electronic music, fluctuating between eerie and pumping and then disappearing altogether leaving you with only the sound of your weapon, suits this game perfectly.
However, it was when thinking about the Soundtrack when all my reservations about this game reared their head. The game is slight, in the magnitude sense, a lack of magnitude pervades throughout. The game was originally an HTML5 game called X-Type that was mostly meant to test the rendering speed of Browsers, and then ported to the Wii U using the Nintendo Web Framework. Due to this the game is small and repetitive due to the constraints of that size. Will I be playing XType Plus in 2 months time? Probably not. Did I have fun with it while it maintained my interest? Most certainly.
Summary: Accurate shooting physics, frenetic gameplay, nice explosions and particle effects, are all marred by repetitive enemies and an underwhelming sense of scale, but you can't complain about the price. Easy to pick up, hard to put down.