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Llamasoft Strikes Again! Gridrunner Rev Adds Fresh Take [Review]

gridrunnerrevIndie games aren’t generally known for their incredible graphical content. From time to time, a game such as Zeno Clash or Metal Drift will take advantage of high-end artists and detail their production more than say, Runman, which will choose to use a different style of artwork. Gridrunner Revolution, Llamasoft’s newest addition to the family of psychedelia-laden gaming experiences, combines that strange allure of style and gameplay rather than focusing solely on the visual content.

That’s not to say that the game does not provide aesthetically pleasing visuals. Founder Jeff Minter, who before Revolution worked most recently on Space Invaders Extreme, utilizes what he’s known from the start excellently. The game is very Galaga oriented: you control a space ship and are supposed to blast down enemies and collect sheep. Yes, sheep: the staple of Llamasoft. While Gridrunner Revolution is an excellent update for any fan of the Gridrunner series and a useful purchase for those new to the game, I must also address its downfalls.

Gameplay

  • Gridrunner contains hours of addictive action and a variety of enemies. The game does a nice job of providing you with a ton of levels to play on (the same 50 stages each difficulty level), ranging from easiest to hardest: Korma, Madras, Vindaloo, and Phall. The 50 levels are also visually separated and contain many variations of enemies, forcing you to develop new strategies. Since you are in control of three ships (one at a time, you scroll through them with the mouse scroller), each with its own characteristics and powers.
  • The game is characterized as a bottoms-up shooter and acts so. The arrows emanating from your spaceship automatically shoot out and you do not need to control the rate or speed. However, you are required to collect “sheepies” to speed up your arrows and add combo multipliers. Also, you can turn the spaceship clockwise or counterclockwise by clicking on the left or right mouse buttons, sometimes to nail those pesky enemies and other times to make visually pleasing curves in order to gain more points (or maybe even both at the same time!). There are a multitude of rules (e.g. sun curves arrows, blowing up sun opens up black hole, etc) that you will pick up as you progress in the game.

Style

  • I spoke a bit about the style in the introduction. Rather than concentrate on how they can make the graphics as detailed as possible, Llamasoft instead focuses on what makes the gameplay so compelling. Mark my words, though, this is not to say that the game doesn’t include visually appealing graphics. I know that, personally, I enjoy psychedelic sights and this game has loads of them; pretty colors, lovely backgrounds, and lots of different enemy types.
  • From time to time the gameplay will be affected by the amount of enemies and colors on the screen, confusing you and causing you to crash. On the other hand, the game’s difficulty is enhanced and Minter may have had that in mind in the first place.

Story

  • It would be unfair of me to judge the game for its story mainly because there isn’t one. However, I will say that the inclusion of a story almost always intensifies the effect a game has on the player. For the most part, Gridrunner Revolution doesn’t necessarily suffer from not having a story because the gameplay doesn’t require one. But at the same time a story provides motivation for the player and that motivation is essential to advancement.

Everything Else

  • Gridrunner also includes numerous songs on its soundtrack. Techno-themed and electronic tunes are weaved into the gameplay seamlessly and allow for a comfortable mixture of audio and video. In addition, Llamasoft throws in the Vic-20 and C64 version of Gridrunner as bonuses in the package (they are unlockables much like different stages and ships). The Jukebox, which allows you to select songs and background visuals, is a useful tool for personal preference.

In conclusion, Gridrunner Revolution is an excellent game to tune out to. There is no story which causes the gameplay to feel repetitive and unmotivated, but you can drop in and out whenever you wish and for gameplay mechanics as easy to pick up as these, there isn’t much to complain about. The bonus versions of the game make this package well worth it.

You can find the game here on Llamasoft’s website.

*The reviewer obtained a free copy of the game for review purposes.

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