SAVE PUGGOLON: MEAT•HAMMER edition!
Sorry about the shouting, it won't happen again. Anyway, Save Puggolon is the last Shootorial game (hooray!), and this one is the special Greg's Pick. As you might have noticed from Buried Treasure Week, Greg's tastes often run to the eclectic, and Save Puggolon is no exception. As far as the gameplay goes, it's not too much different from the Shootorial (with a few additions), but there's a lot of art happening which makes this a distinctive game.
Anyway, you're fighting to save Puggolon (as was hopefully obvious from the title), which is apparently some kind of pug-filled planet or something. The plot isn't really that well fleshed out. There is an ending, which I appreciate in a game like this, but to be honest I didn't really find it worth the bother to play all the way to the ending, so I can't really comment on it. The gameplay, as I mentioned, is pretty much the basic Shootorial gameplay -- enemies come from the right, you shoot them, there are powerups, they shoot you, you have a finite amount of health, bosses and subbosses come by from time to time. The pace is definitely better set than the basic Shootorial, though. Unlike the basic Shootorial, the game is divided into levels, and sometimes at the end of a level you have a choice of two levels to proceed to for your next.
The art is pretty crazy, as you'll see when you play it, but definitely high quality. The sound effects are pretty poor -- only a small blip when you destroy an enemy, but the music is quite impressive; the game designer apparently created it (as well as the art) himself, which is no mean feat. It's pleasantly hypnotic, although it does get a little repetitive after a while. In a pleasant surprise, everything in the game is correctly spelled and uses correct grammar. The interface makes a baffling decision in the difficulty select screen, though -- even though the "easy" and "hero" areas look like buttons, you actually have to fly your ship there, which is quite counterintuitive. Big arrows saying "fly here for easy difficulty!" would be much more useful. (I didn't really try the hero difficulty, so I didn't get a chance to experience the achievements the game offers.)
Anyway, while the basic gameplay is perhaps somewhat more interesting than the straight-up Shootorial, it's still not really interesting enough to carry the game on its own. The style, though, is pretty impressive. Combining the designer's artistic abilities with a somewhat less played-out gameplay idea could result in some really good games, however.