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30Mar/109

XBLIG Review – Pew Pew Pod

xboxboxart (1) Yet another dual stick space shooter in the indie games. And guess what it’s styled after. Yeah … I’m not even going to type the name of the game here because I personally think it’s an overhyped mess. But regardless of that, despite the stupid name of “Pew Pew Pod” it is well done and does a good job of setting itself apart from the other better known shooter of this ilk. Barely.

This is another one of those reviews where I’m going to attempt to review it as objectively as I can, because personally, I despise the game and will never play it again. But that’s not because the game is bad. I’m just sick of dual stick shooters in space. I got sick of them a LONG time ago, and it boggles my mind that people keep making them. But unfortunately, people keep playing them so there’s going to be about a thousand more.

So with that being said, and probably causing the developers to think to themselves “Oh God …” let’s get this show on the road.

screen1_Web This game is played much like you would expect, except for one thing. You actually have different weapons instead of simply snagging a powerup (of which it has as well) to get it. You fly around the stage with the right stick, you shoot with the left, and you select your different weapons using either the face buttons or the triggers. The enemies drop little glowing balls that you can collect for extra points, and the powerups boil down to either a rapid fire shot or a 4 way fire shot that expire after so long if you survive that long. Now, I don’t see why ANYONE would EVER use the face buttons to select the different weapons, but I’m sure they exist. Since this game is so fast paced, you don’t want to lift your thumbs off those sticks for even a fraction of a second. The green weapon is your typical laser style weapon with a medium rate of fire. The red works like a shotgun, and while it’s a bit slow it has a much higher range. The blue one bounces all over the screen, and eventually slows down quite a bit. And the yellow one is kind of like a rocket launcher taking out groups of enemies at once. It has a fair number of different types of enemies, each with their own unique ways to attack you. Some just idly float around simple being in the way, others fly across the screen, hit a wall then fly another direction. And you naturally have the ones who actively chase after you either one at a time or in groups. Obviously, the different types of weapons do better than others in certain situations.

screen2_Web The graphics, despite the fact that they have a VERY strong similarity with another game are very well done and look great with bright vivid colors a dead solid frame rate that NEVER lets up, the enemies are easy to tell apart and everything has that real nice vector glow I loved back in the 80’s with games like Asteroids, Tempest, Battlezone and Red Baron. The border around the screen definitely adds to the game, because if all you saw way the play area, it’d be a bit overwhelming with everything that goes on and would make the nicely detailed environments seem a little TOO big. And, some people may knock this, but other people like me actually like the fact that the backgrounds are just static images. There’s enough going on during play without something like that being a distraction. The music flat out rocks and after playing it I just let it sit on the main menu for just that. The sound effects are great as well. Instead of explosions you get deep bass hits when the enemies are destroyed and through a decent speaker setup it really adds to the game overall. The only thing I’ve got to really knock the graphics for, is that my system is hooked to an older 480p TV and I play in widescreen, so the text is WAY too small to easily be read and I constantly have to strain to see it. It’s not a big deal, but there are people out there like me who haven’t moved up to the HDTV mess yet.

screen3_Web Now, as with every other game of this type, this is a score chaser game. That’s the entire point to the game. And while it does offer some unique game modes, it’s kind of disappointing that someone doesn’t do something drastically different. This game plays EXACTLY like the other shooters like it in the end, and while there are the different modes of play … they mostly boil down to the same thing. Kill enemies, survive as long as possible, get the highest score. In survival mode, you get 3 lives to last as long as possible. You don’t get points for destroying the enemies though, you get the points purely by not getting blown up. The arcade mode just sticks you in there with a 3 minute timer to see how many points you can collect. Waypoint, you fly around and collect little waypoints to get points. Zones … you stay inside a circle until it disappears and fly into another one that shows up on screen. Think Fast mode is the one mode that actually really stands out in the fact that it plays a lot like Simon Says. A color will come up on screen (obscuring any enemies that may be there) and you switch to that weapon. And then there is a Versus Mode that I didn’t try because I don’t do local multiplayer. If you’ve ever read any of my other reviews, you know that I only do multiplayer over Xbox Live … and normally I would knock a game for not including that. But in a game like this, lag would OBLITERATE the experience, so it’s perfectly understandable here.

Now for the bad. Which, there really isn’t all that much. This game is REALLY fast paced. Almost TOO fast and there aren’t any speed adjustments or difficulty settings. It gets a bit difficult to keep track of where you’re at on screen because you can literally move across it almost before you can blink. I mean, it’s FAST. Which, depending on how you are, that may or may not be a bad thing. But another thing that goes along with that is the fact that the game seems to just assume that you’re already good at game like … oh God I can’t believe I’m saying the name … Geometry Wars 2, or the GOOD ones like Robotron 2084 or Smash T.V. … for example : in the 3 minute mode of Geometry Wars 2, I may die once or twice but I can ALWAYS finish it. I may not get the highest score or even do particularly well, but I can ALWAYS finish it. Haven’t yet lasted the full 3 minutes in this game. The difficulty is ramped up a hell of a lot compared to the other games it copies and really hurts the approachability of the game. And finally, the game modes, while it does have that neat Simon Says style mode, they ultimately boil down to the same thing. There isn’t anything where you’re going against one type of enemy or anything that’s radically different then the arcade or survival modes other than the way the points are scored.

8.0 – Just because I don’t like this game and will probably RARELY ever, IF ever play it again (though I will fire it up from time to time purely for that WICKED music) doesn’t mean it isn’t done well. It is a bit too hard for it’s own good, it’s definitely going to turn novice players off, and if you’re like me and just tired of the dual stick shooters in space (or in general) there’s nothing here that’s going to change your mind. It DOES in fact have  global leaderboards for each specific mode of the game, which is ESSENTIAL for a score chasing game. It’s got a real slick look, tight controls, I’ll say it again, WICKED music. This is one of the best dual stick shooters of this type on system period, getting beaten out by the near perfection that is Echoes+. If you’re not tired of them by now, this is definitely worth every MS Space buck of the 80 it costs.

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Comments (9) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I really suck at this game. It looks pretty nice but I just am not any good at it.

  2. @Jigsaw hc I just think it’s geared more toward people who #1) Are already good at GeoWars 2 and #2) People who still give a shit about this type of game.

  3. @Jigsaw hc
    “I’ve noticed that each weapon presents its own difficulty. Green and red are pretty standard, and yellow is difficult, but blue is great for beginners. The game is definitely challenging, but the weapon variety gives it a great pace! Give blue a shot if you’re having trouble.”

  4. I love this game… I’m #1 on all the boards (for now)! Where’s the competition?! :P

  5. This game just helps proves to me a point I already believe, which is leaderboards would greatly help XBLIG games…

  6. Dhalamar, I fit in both of those categories, so your theory holds strong so far.

  7. Ok I should have consolidated my thoughts into one comment, but I like this game better than Echoes+, which I also love, for one reason and it’s a big reason: Online scoreboards.

  8. Scoreboards are great, but the game doesn’t do a whole lot that’s actually interesting or new and it’s WAY too fucking hard for it’s own good. And not hard in a good way like Robotron or Smash TV … it just seems like it’s hard for the sake of being hard. And to me, along with the fact it’s yet ANOTHER dual stick space shooter that rips off the old GeoWars formula … it’s just not fun to me.

  9. I like dual stick shooters but this game is way to fucking hard. This even for a clone could of beat geo wars if it wasn’t so hard. At least they could have gave you difficulty settings or gradually ramp it up thru gameplay. I liked the look and really wanted it to get this but the demo kills it for me, its to bad.


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