Death is inevitable. Its a subject of both fear and fascination. If you had a minute to live, would you want to be remembered for how you died; Or would you take the reigns of this molecule you are riding and and go out in a blaze of glory? With the exceptions of games like the Demon’s Souls / Dark Souls series, many games these days take your hand and walk you through your journey. However, if you look for a true challenge, then consider Jamie Fristrom’s Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe the vanitas of PlayStation Mobile.
Due to its art direction, many will be quick to point out that Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe looks very similar to Atari’s Arcade Classic, Asteroids. However, when you actually play the game, it feels more like Housmarque’s popular PSN twin stick shooter, Super Stardust HD combined with the time component from Marvelous Entertainment’s’ Half Minute Hero. Don’t let appearances fool you. As simple as SSSD looks, its game play is very smooth and quite deep for a game that lasts for a minute.
The game is quite simple at first: The player gets one life and one minute to get as far as they can and score as many points as they can. Power ups like missiles, bombs and ram shields help the player increase their kill streak while hour glasses slow down time to help the player extend the clock. Collecting Xs on the screen multiplies points. Pulling off a combo of fifty hits initiates chain reaction mode which gives the player the opportunity to nab more kills and score more multipliers. The higher the level, the more points are earned per kill. Power ups and wormholes to the next level are generated in random locations. Personally, I found myself playing connect the dots with the power ups while trying to smash through objects and enemy ships to get to the next wormhole in the fastest possible manner. Doing so usually creates a certain rhythm that moves you from one level to the next.
During the first few rounds, the player will nab bonuses that will let them start the game on higher levels. Given the fact that each game lasts for a minute, this is essential for nabbing higher multipliers and better overall scores. Despite Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe’s frantic pace, this play mechanic balances it out, never making a single play through unfair. How the player fairs will be determined by their ability to navigate, strategic use of power ups and their sheer will to survive.
Controls for SSSD are well designed for the Vita’s layout. The analog controls for the ship are always on point and perfectly react to every turn and twitch. I did not experience and input lag between transitions. The missiles can be fired using the R-Trigger and guided by holding down the R-Trigger and moving the onscreen target before releasing it. Although this is a great option for accurately guiding the missiles, because of the sense of urgency that this game requires, I have found it more useful to tap the R-Trigger and let the blast radius take out multiple enemies (Especially when dealing with any bullet proof, red colored ships).
Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe is my first experience with Sony’s new PlayStation Mobile brand of Indie Games. When I compare the way this game flows to the way some of the Minis I’ve played on the PS3 and PSP, I can honestly say that it gives me hope for this new category. For those of you who are reading this and are curious about how Mobile fairs against Minis, after playing SSSD, the engine is a lot smoother than any Minis title I have ever played. This is a good entry level title for the Vita’s Indie lineup and it does an excellent job of showcasing the power of the PlayStation Mobile Platform as well as the Vita’s Dual Thumb Sticks. As a Video Game Design Major, this game gives me a sense of pride that Sony has taken the time out to create a platform where the barrier of entry is lighter, yet the possibilities for design are not that limited.
Although Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe is a minute long, those minutes quickly turn into hours. Dying is literally a life lesson when playing this game. As I inch may way closer to besting my high score, I just can’t help but to keep on playing. Its very rare that a game at the low price of $2.79 gives us this much replay value. As small as this game is, it truly appeals to my old school 80’s arcade sensibility but steps things up with modern design techniques that make this a perfect balance between old and new. Its simple enough for a casual gamer to pick up, yet deep enough to satisfy even the most hardcore arcade enthusiast. I can only imagine how many quarters this game would have sucked up back in the day even if it was sprite based. Overall, Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe is a lesson in good game play design. If you are looking for an excellent time killer on your PS Vita, then look no further. Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe is a fairly priced, unsung hero of a game that will give anyone who is open minded enough to purchase it a decent bang for their buck.