Sunday, February 23, 2014

SKH: Resurrection (XBLIG)

Holy Hell, and Mother of Metal!!! I did not see this one coming! It was like a left hook right out of the shadows. For those of you who have been with me for a while you might recall my review of a certain mathematical indie shmup by the name of "Super Killer Hornet". Well, it just so happens that that already impressive retro game has taken on an entirely new form that amplifies what the original experience had to offer. The premise is the basically still the same, but the gameplay will no doubt draw you in with it's new 80's arcade scene vibe, and it's killer soundtrack. I for one was thrown for a loop after playing the game, and I definitely think Flump Studios was out to impress this time around. In doing so they have proven their worth as an indie shump developer.

Super Killer Hornet Resurrection comes to vibrant life with a completely new visual overhaul, an engaging soundtrack made of the classical OST (Dylan Barry), and a certain rapper's (Sixty Fours) tunes who will have you keeping time with the action onscreen. While staying true to the overhead shmup genre that it was inspired by SKHR continues to enlighten the minds of it's players with mathematical problem solving, and shmup-like features. You'll be flying along in one of three ships (Hornet, Locust, Mantis) as you blast your way through metal as !@#$% baddies, and solve the three step math problems at hand.

Like any true shmup (shoot'em up) SKHR does good to keep in mind that score matters. While Math is a part of every mode (Arcade, Auto-Bomb, Hard, Time Attack) besides 'Survival' you'll find that by shooting the psychadelic, and organic alien life forms you'll be racking up classic shmup style points which will in turn add to your current highest score. At your disposal you have three different weapons. These weapons include a ship specific shot spread (Hornet = Average Power & Average Shot, Locust = Low Power & Large Spread Shot, Mantis = High Power & Focused Shot), a flamer shot (slows the ships down, but more powerful), and a screen clearing bomb. While the shot type weapons are always available (Standard Shot = A, Flame Shot = X) you'll find that your bombs are a precious commodity that must be used only in the case of dire emergencies.

When it comes to math solving you'll find that numerical power-ups can be gathered in three sequential phases that will in turn give you the opportunity to complete the correct sum of the problem at hand. To begin with you'll collect a number with an attached addition, subtraction, or multiplication symbol, After that you'll pick up another random floating number, and make a proper math problem by doing so. When your math problem has been connected three possible answers in the form of numerical power-ups will drift by in the midst of the bullet hell madness, and must be picked correctly in order to add to your multiplier, and your shot spread. While mathematical problems solving is definitely an in-game feature it is by no means necessary to play through the game.

The modes in SKHR are another story altogether. At the main menu you'll be able to select from two different modes of play including "ARCADE", and "TIME ATTACK". Arcade mode itself is divided up into three different difficulties that somewhat act as modes of play themselves. For players looking for the easy way out you'll find that "AUTO-BOMB" is the way to go as it will automatically protect you with bombs should you get too close to any spaceship/creature. The second difficulty setting titled "HARd" is just as it sounds. It will pit you up against insurmountable odds as you try your best to stay alive amidst the hard to dodge bullet hell, and screen filling enemies. Lastly there's a wholly unique mode/difficulty setting called "SURVIVAL" that will launch your chosen ship into the fray with a single life, max multiplier, max shot spread, and max bombs. You must not get hit once in this mode, or you'll meet the "GAME OVER" screen head on. I should also note that in "SURVIVAL" math problems are completely absent from gameplay making scoring the sole focus of your playthrough.

As far as "TIME ATTACK" goes it it comes complete with all three previously mentioned difficulty settings/modes (Auto-Bomb, Hard, Survival). The only catch is that in this particular mode of play your time will be limited due to a countdown timer that is displayed onscreen. Should you not make it past the boss of the current level, and defeat it you will be greeted with the ominous "GAME OVER" message. The math, and non-mathematical features remain the same as they do in "ARCADE" mode.

About the graphics and sound ...

SKHR is a game that seems to harken back to the later 80's Japanese arcade scene. The graphics border on being a mixture of 8-bit, and 16-bit graphics. Of course there are special effects, and animations that are applied which keep the game from seeming like a stiff presentation (aka, Space Invaders). In fact the explosions, shot blasts, and enemy ship movements all scream last-gen (Xbox 360) quality. As far as the sound track goes Sixty Fours' song "My Sound" is so metal, and kick-ass that I had it repeating nearly the entire time I did my playthrough. Even the OST (Official Soundtrack) was impressive in that it offered a retro sound that mirrored that of classic 80's arcade shmups. Overall the game came together perfectly, and in a flawless manner.

Now for the verdict ...

As I said to begin with I was totally surprised by how great, and how vastly different this game was from the original. I loved the new creature/ship designs, and the more organic look of everything. The soundtrack was impressive for the most part as well, and the mathematically inspired shmup action did good to add an innovative edge to a genre that has been exploited by developers for ages. If you are looking for a quality shmup at an affordable price you CANNOT go wrong with Super Killer Hornet Resurrection. For the $1-$3 cost you are gaining a solid shmup experience that will not only grant you access to the arcade action of old, but that will also keep your mind sharp as you play. It's a win-win situation, and offer!

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