That summer XBLA
conspiracy drought getting you down? If you haven’t bothered with Mutant Storm Reloaded from PomPom Games, you have absolutely no reason to be complaining about any lack of games until you give it a go.
Soon to get a sequel in the form of Mutant Storm Empire, Reloaded is a dual-analog shooter along the lines of Geometry Wars and Robotron. The difference here is that Reloaded looks like it was made by a crack team of hippies during the 1970s. I’m not sure “acid trip” quite describes this game.
Rather than the continuous gameplay of Geo Wars, Mutant Storm is divided up into 89 rooms each featuring some variation on the “kill all enemies” shtick. For instance, while one room will throw a few waves of enemies at you, another will throw some turrets into the mix, and yet another will drop a large one-eyed monster into the mix. I think this is one reason I like it so much more than Geometry Wars, is that rather than a continuous display of lights and explosions to the point where you can no longer see your ship, you get a nice variety in the gameplay.
Mutant Storm starts you out on White Belt difficulty, forcing you to unlock the other seven belts. These achievements will seem hard at first, but after a while you’ll be able to pick up one belt per (good) game. Other achievements include racking up 2x and 4x multiplier, clearing all stages in Adventure and Tally (one-stage-at-a-time gameplay) and the hardest Xbox 360 achievement there is, Black Belt Grandmaster, asking you to begin at Room 1 and beat all 89 rooms in one game on Black Belt (hardest) difficulty.
MSR would be a little too difficult if they wanted you to fight of hordes of weird creatures with just a weak normal blaster, so the game offers you power-ups instead. Aside from the typical bombs, of which you get three per life, you also get a spinning shield around you that lasts a few seconds and kills enemies (but doesn’t award points); a one-use shield that deflects bullets and some enemies (you will cheer when these appear on-screen); seeker missles, more powerful lasers, and a three-way shot; along with a score-increasing item. They add a good bit of substance to an already-good game.
The game sports your typical Xbox Live Leaderboards (I’m still trying to beat Rival and Curry’s scores), and a feature for you to change your ship’s build and color. It’s not much, but it’s definite a plus and it’s smaller features like these that help raise review scores. Mutant Storm also boasts a rather confusing same-Xbox multiplayer mode, which is fun for a while but you probably won’t spend too much time on it.
It’s 800 Microsoft Points, which is quite a bit when you consider that you could buy two similar games, Geometry Wars and Robotron, for the same price. However, in my opinion, this is the superior title, for its psychadelic appearance and varied gameplay. As is the case with any arcade game, you can try out the first few rooms in a trial version, and then decide to spend your money, but I highly recommend it.
Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (how do we rank games?)