Every Extend Extra – Second Opinion

Every Extend Extra Screenshot 

Although I can certainly understand Andrew's sentiments regarding Every Extend Extra, I'm not sure that I can echo them. Not having been familiar with the freeware source material, I approached the game knowing almost nothing about it besides the fact that it was another signature Mizuguchi piece, and it is. Familiar with Rez and Lumines, I found myself quite at home with EEE's sights and sounds.

As expected, Mizuguchi does not disappoint. The graphics are hypnotic, almost overwhelming with their intensity. The music is a fitting compliment. I don't think that the bursts of sound emanating from each explosion succeed in the sort of "create a dynamic sound" effect the game was going for, but then again, I don't think the same mechanic was successful in Rez, either. Clearly one of Mizuguchi's pet projects, I'm sure he'll try his hand at synesthesia again.

Audio and visuals aside, my main issues with Every Extend Extra are twofold: the length and the core play mechanic.

The length (seven standard levels and two hidden) wouldn't be an issue if the game was priced a little lower, but the sole retail copy I managed to find clocked in at $30. I managed to get through the game a few times the first day, and I had little motivation to go back and improve my score. That's a pretty steep buy-in for a couple of hours with a game that I don't feel has legs—a direct result of my second complaint, the core play mechanic.

Clearly positioned as a "puzzle" game and not as some sort of psycho-shooter the way the similarly brief Rez was, Every Extend Extra can be frustrating due to the apparent randomness of enemy patterns and their frequency. The point of the game is to set off chain reactions, but if the enemies never appear or appear in awkward configurations, chain reactions are impossible. It's clearly stated that picking up the "quicken" items will increase the appearance of said enemies (and they do), but the overall tone comes across as too heavily based in luck, and not something able to be controlled with skill the way a board can be worked by a seasoned Lumines or Tetris player.

This random aspect to scoring opportunities is especially aggravating during the "boss" sequences when players are supposed to attack by scoring a combo chain with the enemy on the receiving end of the explosions. It doesn't feel enjoyable or fair to try and rack up a 12-combo pointed in a certain direction when the only enemies available are drifting across in clusters of three on the wrong side of the screen with the clock counting down to game over.

As an experiment of sorts, Every Extend Extra brings an independent sensibility and definite auteur flavor. I like the concept and I like its energy, and I certainly don't mean to come off as someone who's wanting yet another variation of the falling-block formula. However, in its current state it seems more tailored towards being a demo or download—in fact, the game is slated to be available on Xbox Live Arcade shortly. In that arena, I think EEE will probably succeed. As a retail-release game asking for my investment, it comes up short both figuratively and literally. Rating: 6 out of 10