REVIEW: Grid Space Shooter

Not long after the title screen it hits you. You begin to notice the similarities at work; the twin-stick (and responsive) controls, a grid layout, the enemies that resemble or take the form of shapes, the bright colors that pop out, all the damning evidence pointing towards Grid Space Shooter (80 MSP) being a more frenzied Geometry Wars.

Grid Space Shooter - Screen

The bigger they are, the more pieces they break into.

Which is fine, especially when you take that well-established twin-stick base and improve on the concept as Meh Games has done. And it’s not aping Geometry Wars so much as it is spiritually channeling. The feel is there, though Grid Space Shooter goes the extra step towards customization, offering up several different ships that trade off various perks, such as increased speed for less firepower, and have their own ‘ability’; a bullet-time move (my personal go-to), say, or EMP systems, to fend off the throngs of restless natives.

Powerups and bonuses will come into play as well, ‘dropped’ at random or left behind by the hulking boss ships. These can range from health pickups (your shield will take up to three hits before the next is fatal) and score multipliers, down to AI drones that will boost your damage and fire spread, but leave you more vulnerable to attack. As for weaponry, there are plenty of unique secondary armaments (homing missiles, shockwaves, clusterbombs, and the like) that can mean all the difference when the going gets tough. And it will.

Facing off against the huge, multi-part, multi-armed, capital ships is a dynamic and thrilling dismantling job each time. Most of these fights will involve smaller waves of enemies and / or avoiding debris.  Then there’s the constant strafing, circling around with special weapons, and deft maneuvering needed to take down the big guys. And that’s against one boss ship. Once the game throws two (or three!) at you to contend with, the chaos requires an almost Zen-like approach, seeing the shot openings and avenues of escape before they happen.

Which makes the resulting explosion and ship tally at the conclusion of each round all the more satisfying. It’s fast-paced, though the cadence of the game flows logically. The challenge and enemy counts / types evolve as you advance across three sets of eight stages, for a total of 24 levels and an unlimited-run Arcade mode.

Grid Space Shooter - Screen2

Replayability isn’t a problem either, with individual online leaderboards for each hub of levels, the Arcade mode, and for GemQuest, which becomes unlocked once you’ve cleared every other stage. GemQuest plays similar to the main game, with its objective re-tuned to collecting gems. The required number to pass increases with each level, as do the difficulty and hazards. One could argue that it’s not as fun as the headliner (if you’re that type), but it’s still a nice reward and worthy time-sink.

Without a doubt, I can say it’s one of the best shooters I’ve played for XBLIG, twin-stick or otherwise. And given their proliferation, that’s really saying something. Ignore the pedestrian game title / studio name and what they imply. Grid Space Shooter is absolutely aces.

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22 thoughts on “REVIEW: Grid Space Shooter”

  1. I know I’m a little late to the conversation (over a year) but I just had to share my bevy of experience w/xblig twicks :/ For a blatant rip-off of ‘Geometry Wars’ there’s always; ‘Biology Battle’ ‘Firefly Vegas’ and the aforementioned ‘Echoes+’. All very good games that focus solely on score chasing. Now if you liked GSS, I would sort of recommend trying out either ‘Robot Legions’ and/or ‘Archrobo: Robotic Annihilation’. These two games focus more on customization of your craft.. or robot for that matter. RL being an arena shooter and ARA falling more in line with a gauntlet shooter ala Radiangames: Inferno. Those are just the first handful of space themed twicks that come to mind, don’t even get me started with the Zombies ahaha

    1. Biology Battle is $5 and it was released in 2008. Wow just wow.
      Firefly Vegas looks interesting for a 3 year old title.
      Robot Legions and Archrobo: Robotic Annihilation look more like dungeon crawlers then open area craziness that GSS provides but still good twicks (like that word btw) to give a go at. Thanks for bringing these to my attention since it’s one of my fave genres.

    2. Yeah, they all seem like solid-enough titles. I’m most curious about Robot Legions, as that does look a little like GSS. Well, with robots. Not sure why I skipped that game at the end of 2012. Looking back, that was when Bleed came out, and looks like I had my hands full with other releases, so that could explain it. Man, might’ve missed out on a good one. Thanks for the list!

    3. @ Dream Poet
      No problem, there’s more where that came from.
      Haha but yeh, for the price of ‘Biology Battle’ you can actually buy the real thing, so I wouldn’t quite recommend that one. How about ‘Geo Bots’ instead? (another clone) 😀 Having played all of them, I do agree with you; GSS is the better game. Hands down. That being said.. don’t let the minimalist graphics of ‘Archrobo’ turn you away, the game drastically ups the difficulty towards the later stages and swinging around a giant laser sword can be quite liberating at times. As for ‘Robot Legions’ I simply enjoyed for it’s carrot dangling effect à la upgrades etc.

    4. @ Tim Hurley
      NP. If you enjoyed the robot fighting parts of ‘Straco’ then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy ‘Robot Legions’. Almost looks and feels like the same robot lol. BTW ‘Bleed’ was SOO good, I can’t blame you for overlooking any of these titles 😛

    5. That must have been what it was. The name didn’t even register with me, so clearly I was so preoccupied with Bleed and others I couldn’t even see any other games at that time. 😀

      In any case, I will definitely download it the next time I’m browsing. Thanks!

  2. Finally started playing this … how did it NOT make the list of best XBLIG games this year? It is simply, addictively entertaining. Can’t do better than that!

    1. Told you guys! I didn’t want to overload the poll and spread the votes too thin, so that’s why I kept it down to a Top 5. Would’ve made the list if I was doing a Top 10, for sure.

      The name probably kept this game off a lot of people’s radars, and once it leaves the New Releases list, it’s basically the Wild West out there in trying to get anyone to notice you. Awesome shooter, though.

  3. Holy WOW! Can’t believe I missed this one. HUGE fan of Geometry Wars and this makes that game seem like child’s play.

    Two words BULLET TIME need I say more?

    1. ‘Bullet Time’ is the only way I fly! The other ships have decent tricks too, but nothing compares to weaving through a literal ‘sheet’ of enemy fire and coming out clean on the other side.

  4. I’d overlooked this one until I read your review. I think it was mostly due to the terrible name, which made me think it would just be another generic XBLIG twin stick shooter. I’ve now given the trial a go and I’m glad your review made me give it a chance since it looks like it’s a cut above the rest. I’m looking forward to buying it and giving it a proper go.

  5. I was so tired of twin stick shooters that I was rarely interested in the genre anymore ever since radiangames left XBLIG. I almost avoided GSS, too, but gladly I didn’t. It was a complete joy to play through and I will certainly come back to improve my scores. Nice review! Oh, and check out Echoes+ for a similar treat.

    1. Thank you, I appreciate that very much 🙂 They’re not really all that similar, but playing this reminded me of the fun I had with radiangames’ catalog last year (I caught up on all their XBLIG stuff). Echoes+ looks just as chaotic and Geometry Wars-inspired. Will definitely check that out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. How can you not enjoy some Geometry Wars, Mr. Charlesworth? It’s fun for anyone, and GridSS expands on that tremendously. Quite a nice surprise, coming out of nowhere. I think the leaderboards help, too. Once again, if you have a reason to continue playing and getting better, people will play, or so the logic goes…

    2. I just find it a bit unengaging. I only played it briefly when it was new, and by now I’ve played so many twin stick shooters that I feel there are far better ones than GW.

    3. GW (for me) is still fun to go back to, mainly the second one. I hear you on that, though. XBLIG is the end of the line for every twin-stick experiment (good and bad) ever devised. Almost would have passed on GridSS if my curiosity didn’t get the better of me.

    4. I agree. I have GW from some giveaway promotion and I found it just… meh (pun intended). Also the developer stated in the XBLIG forums that GSS was inspired by Warning Forever and Battleships Forever more than by GW.

      GSS is one of the very few games I’ve playtested or peer reviewed on XBLIG and thought: “I wish I came up with this”.

    5. Yeah, it’s really fun. One of the few I’ve played for review, then gone back to afterwards. I shouldn’t say ‘few’, but compared to how many bad games I’ve sifted through, it’s not as high a number as I would like.

      Checking out those games he / you mentioned, I can see where the ‘boss fights’ originated from. Never played those (not a PC gamer, unfortunately), so Geometry Wars was my only point of reference. Still, kudos to the Dev for bringing together all the pieces.

    6. If you’d like to try out Warning Forever, try Infinity Danger on XBLIG. It’s one of Milkstone’s releases, an early favourite XBLIG of mine, and by all accounts basically a carbon copy of Warning Forever.

    7. I thought that might be a good substitute 🙂 Infinity Danger I do own and love. If the leaderboard stretched out to 30 / 35 games instead of 25, it would be on there.

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