VR: Vicious Reality – What We Think
The concept behind new developer Zairot’s first commercial game is that you’ve been somehow sucked into a space combat MMO and must defeat the evil artificial intelligence controlling it in order to escape; think Tron meets EVE Online. It’s a cool concept that has very little emphasis on gameplay; VR: Vicious Reality is actually a straight-up Space Invaders remake, and a good one, at that.
VR: Victorious Remake
VR: Vicious Reality operates the same as the original Space Invaders; waves of enemy aliens zig-zag their way down the screen, firing bullets while you weave from left to right at the bottom of the screen, protected by three fragile shields vulnerable both to enemy bullets and your own. The more enemies you kill out of each wave, the faster and more deadly the remainder become.
Compared to the original, this game has a more slowly scaling difficulty level; things start off easy and seem to barely progress, until you realize that the game has entered into some strange intermediary area halfway between retro remake and Japanese bullet hell SHMUP.
Zairot has also introduced some more modern innovations, the most interesting of which being the “graze” effect. If an enemy bullet grazes you without hitting you directly, instead of taking damage you actually gain a second or two of invulnerability. Combined with inertia-sensitive controls that move you faster the longer you move in a single direction, this opens up different strategy options for less risk-averse players.
Other comparatively modern elements include collectible bonus point drops, power-ups and even a slot machine-style mini-game that pops up between levels. There’s also a final boss level that really drives the bullet hell influences home as the screen fills with pink enemy bullets and sends any attempts at caution out the window.
Crank Up the Bass (Invaders)
Some mention need be made of the soundtrack, composed by UK trance artist Imphenzia. ’90s-style minimalist dance music thumping along with retro graphics and the constant electronic bleeps and beeps of pixellated laser cannons takes you right into a groove, and it’s easy to just stay there, thanks to the way the game’s difficulty level ramps up so gradually. Unlike the original Space Invaders, this game isn’t dependent on squeezing quarters out of you, so it’s free to lull you into an almost hypnotic state.
VR: Vicious Reality doesn’t break much new ground, but there enough contemporary touches to keep casual shooter enthusiasts interested. It’s a solid clone of that most retro of retro shooters and an enjoyable, semi-addictive take on the genre.