Like Lemonade... but with Explosions
HIGH Floating in the shield and dropping deathballs from above.
LOW It's way too easy to miss on the Indie channel.
WTF This game only costs one dollar... and it's great!
It's pretty rare that I come across a developer who obviously gets it. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of extremely talented people in the industry, and I love the work that they do. However, there are those certain folks... those unique individuals who just know what works, and everything they do is worth attention. Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games is one of those people.
His previous efforts, Weapon of Choice and Shoot1UP (both available on the Xbox Live Indie channel) were low-budget masterpieces that prove good gameplay and creative ideas don't need a million-dollar budget to bear fruit. Nathan's latest work, Explosionade, unsurprisingly follows suit.
Players in Explosionade will strap into a military mech and blast their way through a series of discrete one-screen levels taking place in a sewer. This mobile weapons platform is loaded for bear, featuring a machine gun, two types of grenades (sticky and bouncy) and an energy shield which functions as both defense and as a means of reaching elevations too high to jump.
The kill-everything formula is a straightforward one, but it's enriched by the delicate balance of action struck between the mech, the old-school levels, and the enemies which populate them. Everything fits. Everything works. Leaping into the air, triggering the shield to enhance the jump, and raining sticky grenades onto the enemies below taps into a kind of energy that can be hard to capture, but Explosionade makes it look like the simplest thing in the world.
At a glance, the quality craft of Explosionade is not immediately apparent, and I can certainly understand how someone flipping through the crush of sub-par offerings on the Indie channel might pass it by without a second thought. However, after just a few moments with controller in hand, I'm confident that anyone investing the asking price of one dollar will find that it's one of the wisest choices they've ever made.
If anyone ever gives Mommy's Best Games a serious development budget, the industry's going to be in trouble.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game was not rated by the ESRB, but my guess is that it would fall on the more harmless side of the Teen scale. Some of the dialogue is a bit saucy and the gameplay is all about blasting aliens, but nothing is very objectionable or explicit.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You won't having problems playing the game. All dialogue is provided through subtitles (no voicework) and everything necessary for gameplay is displayed on-screen. I played several rounds with the sound turned completely off, and encountered no difficulty at all.