|I beat the game and won a lovely cup of tea.|
I really, really got into this game. It's beautiful, mathematics in colour.
It's the latest iteration of Jeff "Yak" Minter's take on Tempest, with nice shiny extras of powerups like the ability to jump, a nice AI Droid to help you out, and mind-bending levels and special effects featuring far more colours than the average rainbow.
The soundtrack adds 1990s rave onto the 1980s arcade visual style, and the Vita is a time-travel device.
|I'm 15th best player in the world!|
Now, Jeff Minter posted some basic gameplay tips on the Playstation EU blog, but they are really basic, so I thought I'd post some tips of my own.
a) Basic Ship Controls
Don't think of moving your ship as going "left" and "right", because you will be running along the rim of objects that go upside-down. Think of it as "clockwise" and "anti-clockwise". And then later, when the game even manages to make that confusing, think of it as "the way I was going" and "the other way". Actually, maybe if you thought the last thing, it works for all cases. :)
b) Accellerometer controls
If you tilt the Vita during a level, you get to slightly tilt your viewpoint. If it comes to you naturally and you need a better viewpoint, use it. I didn't use it much. Noticed it more on the pause screen than during gameplay. But it's cool.
Between levels, as long as you aren't starting a bonus stage, your ship will fly through a series of rings; flying as close as you can to the centre will give you a points bonus. This bonus can become very sizable! I found that playing the game with the Vita near horizontal made the between-stage controls much better. Be gentle.
I barely ever stopped shooting. On some levels (e.g. #30), I changed from holding down the fire button to a slower pulse with my thumb, as I spun through the level. Mostly I held down the fire button.
d) Smart Bomb (Supertapper)
I usually kept this in reserve for emergencies, but if you are feeling confident, all enemies you kill with the smart bomb give you double points.
The very basic enemies, if they get to the rim where you're standing, can start to drag you off the side. If that starts and you still can, touch the screen to set off the supertapper and rescue yourself. If you have the power-up, the AI Droid can also rescue you, but eh, sometimes it seems like it can't be bothered to. Lazy thing.
They come in roughly the same order each level - some yield points, there's a particle laser, but most importantly, there is the jump ability and then AI Droid. There is also a warp triangle, and eventually the dual wield ability - which I don't think is that useful (I only ever seem to get it so late in a level there's nothing left to shoot). Get every power up you can. The later point power-ups are 8000 points each - vital if you are working on your high score.
Jumping is the most important defensive power-up, because it lets you avoid things. But you will get more points the less you jump.
f) 1up power-ups
They look like normal power-ups, except they're pink. When they appear, a sound effect says "extra" then when you collect it, it says "life". Listen out for these! You can have up to 11 extra lives.
g) Strategy : playing to survive vs playing to score points
If you want to play to survive, start out sweeping a level with bullets to get as many enemies as possible, then stick to a small patch (hopefully that doesn't rotate too confusingly). Power-ups only appear from enemies you've killed, so sticking to one patch limits them to appearing only in your little spot, and hopefully you'll get the "jump" ability soon enough you won't be in trouble.
After that, try and get the AI Droid power-up if you can, then jump a lot and keep away from bullets, killing easy enemies and letting your AI Droid kill off the things that are more likely to put up more of a fight.
h) Classic mode
In this mode, when you get Game Over, you can restart the level of your choice with whatever was your best score / number of lives you managed to achieve in the past. Most lives seems to be dominant over most score. As such, when you restart, rather than going to the last level I was on, I tended to go to the level where I last had most lives, and played to survive. Then return to them later and retry for more points.
i) Special enemies
Watch out for flowers. Shoot flower heads when they are either still, or spin slowly. If they are spinning quickly, they have broken free from the stem and are unstoppable, and will kill you if they touch you.
Watch out for the buzzy electric things that light up a whole column. Pay close attention to the light between their prongs; they light up in a certain way just before electrifying a column. If you see it, move or jump! (Electric attacks can't get you when you're in the air!)
The bulls that appear on level 33 are more deadly when they are killed than when they were alive, because their horns spin upwards to get you, and move quite slowly so you might accidentally jump into them. I found that letting bulls come to the top, and bounce down a little way before killing them made them easier.
The little whirlpools that spin the entire stage are more disorientating than they are dangerous. Don't be intimidated by them!
The missile rock things - sometimes it's better to avoid them than try to defeat them, because they can break into pieces. But, points! Score!
The round things that turn into rainbow tubes when you shoot them - I don't think they can be destroyed after they turn into tubes. If I'm wrong, let me know!
The static flowers that give a long "moooooo" sound, that come near the end of the game - the ones that are really tall and sweep across the rim - pay attention to the colour of the stalk. Before you have jump ability, you won't be able to destroy them. It's safe to pass below the flower head as long as the stalk isn't electrified, and they give a visible tell to let you know when they will light up.
The annoying star things that shoot at you from the bottom rim of a stage - they get bigger when they are about to shoot stuff at you, at which point they are vulnerable. But, if you stick around to shoot at them, you are going to die. You really have to take advantage of the length of the stage, so your bullets reach it when you're safely out of the way, but overall, I'd recommend you keep out of the way if you can.
j) Bonus stages
You automatically go to these when you collect 4 warp triangles and end a level. The bonus stage where you fly through rings - the controls are really really sensitive, don't touch anything for the majority of the time. Be ultra gentle. If you're doing ok with these bonus stages, don't read what I'm about to say - but to me, it was like up and down were reversed.
The path bonus stage is far easier, in my opinion. You just go left and right as normal.
Accellerometer controls are disabled for the duration of bonus stages, and you get a 50000 point bonus for finishing each one.
k) Feel your way through the game
This is a game you feel. I've written up what I can, but I'm sure there's more that's just not conscious or I am able to express. Play this game with your eyes and ears and your hands. It's the most tactile geometric shooting game there is. Be glad you aren't playing it with your nose unless you like the scent of ungulates. Have fun. Discover things. :)
That's about it, I think that's all I have. Good luck! This is a super awesome great game. But still not as great as Space Giraffe, which is an utter masterpiece. A mad, mad masterpiece. But super awesome great is still super awesome great! I think it's the best game on Vita so far!