In a marketplace that’s seen too many space shooters to properly keep track of, you ideally need to do something to differentiate yourself from the pack. Originality is dead, I get it, but for every simplistic game I play with a sparse black background, peppered with white dots to stand in as stars, I die a little inside. Still, developers pay me no mind and keep cranking them out. Knowing that corner of the genre to be sufficiently-clogged, Light Fighters (80 MSP) not only fails to heed the warning, but seemingly goes out of its way to secure a place in obscurity.
Visuals aside, the content itself is lacking. Versus mode is comically-broken in single-player (Tournament), with you trading ineffectual shots with the AI on opposing sides of the screen in some kind of cat-and-mouse version of gameplay that never even starts to pan out. You can choose from a selection of wireframe ships that boast different special attacks, though each ship is hampered by the same rechargeable meter that represents your ammo. All of your attacks and moves (a speed boost and shield) draw power from this reserve. Use too much, or fire at will, and you’ll deplete the meter. This is designed to invite some strategy, no doubt, but given that you can simply dodge incoming fire or activate your shield at any time, firefights with the computer turn into plodding stalemates, with neither side able to gain the upper hand.
After ten minutes, I had barely grazed my opponent. Selecting different ships yielded similar results. I’m sure it’s possible to whittle down the enemy over time, but half-hour-or-better battles are not going to hold anyone’s interest as currently presented. I could see this working out more favorably if you have a friend to battle locally, though even then it feels more like a matter of attrition and landing lucky shots than something you’d willingly submit yourself to more than once.
The campaign portion here, which again has you hugging that vertical line ad nauseam (known under the code name of ‘survival’) while you defend a colony from incoming asteroids, is at least slightly more tolerable, and doesn’t immediately cancel out its own existence like versus does. Yet the ammo meter again comes into play (offset somewhat by the addition of screen-clearing bombs), as do multiple asteroids, and, as the saying goes, the house always wins. Survival, too, offers the option of local co-op, and again, will probably extend your playtime longer than if you went solo. Ultimately, there’s still not much fun to be had. The game’s lengthy soundtrack is the sole highlight.
Count sheep, or stare at this screenshot. Either works.
Light Fighters isn’t the worst you’ll find on the indie channel, though the boring art and game modes do nothing to elicit any emotion or positive mention. Most of you will pass it by without a look, and rightfully so. It’s certainly not what I had in mind in wanting to start off the new year fresh.