Shumps(shoot ‘em ups) are a genre that tends to get overlooked when it comes to XBLA releases, if your game isn’t called Geometry Wars the chances of big sales numbers are slim and your game will slowly fade into obscurity. I think the issue stems from the fact that western audiences aren’t accustomed to the now standard ‘Bullet Hell’ style of gaming as even highly regarded titles like Ikaruga made barely a ripple on them Marketplace. Brightside Games is hoping to change things a little with Zeit2 thank to some tweaks to the format that make it a little more accessible to western audiences, while carving a niche all its own.
Initially, I was a little confused as to why and how Zeit2 was a full blown XBLA release, as it seemed very lightweight and more in line with some things I’d played on the Indie Games section of the Marketplace, but the depth of the game was deceiving and the more I played and unlocked new game modes, and really learned just what it took to beat the bosses that are riddled throughout the game I found its price to be justified. So what depth you might ask? Well, the time travel aspect for one is a major gameplay change that not only allows you to escape some tricky situations, but it also is essential for clearing the screen of enemies and propels the game into a strange sort of puzzle mode. At times you’ll need to clear out a row of enemies while another whips past you (certain missed enemies not only result in a loss of points, but also health) so you’ll need to reverse time to allow your shadow self to take out the initial row while you blast the other. Have to take down a big boss or rows of enemies that seem impossible? Try shooting your shadow self with your standard shot or one of the unlocked special shots – as this crossing of the streams creates some great powers that can wipe the screen. Time travel is limited to 4.2 seconds at any given time, but this counter increases as you destroy the bad guys and collect power ups, but sometimes it’s just not quick enough. Forward time travel is also available in an unlimited amount – this serves to increase your scores and get through the slower parts of the levels a little faster.
What makes this more than just a shooter is the unlockable additional game modes, two of the best in my opinion are the Tactics and Challenge mode. Tactics involves strategic planning to pass the levels with a specific score, as different enemy types grant differing point levels. In Tactics, a set number of enemies will be moving across the screen in a specific type/point value – allowing them to move off the left edge of the screen prompts a respawn as a new type and point value. It’s a neat twist to the shooter genre that I hope to see continue. The other mode is the Challenge mode – as you play the game you unlock in game challenges each with a specific point value assigned. In Challenge mode, these are dished out to you and others online and it’s up to you to accomplish them. Some challenges are created on the fly, so it’s a great way to waste some time.
Graphically the game is quite simple, the glowing blue, black and white color scheme isn’t going to win any awards but in its simplicity it shines. The enemy types are based on some strange sort of segmented design which in all honestly reminded me heavily of PSN exclusive title Flow; so I was a little disoriented playing this on the Xbox 360.
Zeit2 is available now on the Xbox Live Arcade as well as on PC, prices are 800 MSFT Points and $9.99 respectively.
- Nice twist on classic side scrolling shooter. The time traveling dynamic adds a new depth not usually seen in games of this genre.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk