Thursday, December 04, 2008


Today brings us to the second-place winner in the Shootorial contest, Elastic. As you can probably guess, Elastic is also a shooter, but unlike River Raid, it introduces a couple of new ideas to the basic shooter formula. The game is not very polished, but I think in this case I'd rather take a somewhat buggy but novel idea. (OK, I know there are bunches of people in the comments pointing out that this idea has been done before. But this is the first that I, and I suspect most of the people who've played the game, have seen of it.)

In Elastic, your vehicle is, well, a little glowing ball. It doesn't actually do anything by itself, though (except get killed and pick up the occasional extra life) -- you also have a large hammer, which swings around your vehicle as you move. (This is kind of tricky to describe, but you'll see what I mean if you give it a try.) You also have two special abilities, one which fires a laser in the current direction from your vehicle to the hammer, and one which holds the hammer in its current position (which is very useful in conjunction with the first ability). There are two types of enemies, one of which can be smashed by the hammer but not lasered, and one which can be lasered but not smashed by the hammer, so you'll have to be constantly changing tactics, which gets kind of annoying. In a given level, you can only let a certain number of enemies go by before you lose, so you do have to engage most targets. I found myself not swinging the hammer very much, but generally just setting it in front of the enemies, locking it there, and then letting the enemies run into it while I lasered the other enemies.

As I said, the game has a few bug issues. The introductory text at the beginning promises that you can play five levels and get a reward (which I assumed was some kind of boss fight), but I reached level 7 without anything particularly interesting happening. There was also one point where the background merrily scrolled itself off the screen, leaving just gray behind (c'mon, that was like one of the first things they covered in the Shootorial!). Still, there aren't any showstoppers that I noticed, and the game's interface, while pretty basic, seems to function fine.

The graphics are pretty basic -- your ship looks kind of pretty, but the bacgkround is quite bland and the explosions are downright ugly. The sounds are nothing special. The background music is kind of peacefully soothing, and is a very nice addition to the game -- it blends nicely enough into the background that you don't mind its being continuously repeated, which is nice.

Overall, Elastic deserves credit for its basic gameplay concept, but it doesn't really add very much to that concept -- once you've gotten through the tutorial, it's just the same thing again and again, except with more enemies. As a result, it doesn't really hold its value very well; I got pretty bored with it after a few levels and didn't really see the need to play very much more. Still, I can easily imagine this idea being turned into a more interesting game. It at least has potential.

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