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.
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.
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.