Intentional or not, Genix (240 MSP) most accurately looks like a stripped-down, wireframe version of F-Zero, minus the actual racing parts but with an infusion of shooter elements and an alien invasion cover story. The mechanics and the premise may be tried and truly done to death, but the visuals help to at first separate it from others.
Levels are a sprawl of squared / jagged lines, though progression and the basic formula behind navigation is key collection, and remains unchanged for the duration. You’ll clear out a nest of assorted baddies, pick up extra health and (integral) ammo refills, then move on to the next. The route you need to take is rarely obtuse, and frequent backtracking gives you the lay of the land. Each new colored card will open up another part of the stage, which leads to a boss battle (every few stages) or the exit.
The bosses themselves are nicely-designed, even if attacks don’t change up much beyond brute strength and sending their cronies after you. They do vary in difficulty (from ‘speed bump’ to ‘bullet sponge’) and drop a new weapon for you to use upon their ouster. You’ll find that ammo is limited (better guns deplete faster, naturally), though the constant options / upgrades to your firepower are a welcome prize. Ditto the adjustable camera and stellar controls.
And kudos to the game for refreshing the enemy roster and introducing a new type every few stages. The wiry art style starts to run old after a dozen levels, so keeping things interesting in the form of multiple enemies with individual attacks and patterns is a must. With thirty stages in all, each running between five and (up to) fifteen minutes, Genix requires your commitment in units of time and, in later stages, patience. The difficulty scales appropriately in the latter half, though it can still catch you napping. It’s tempting to try it guns blazing (and occasionally it will work), though a measured advance is best.
Pro tip: Do not get this close to your enemies.
Frustration can set in with longer mission times, especially if you find yourself suddenly surrounded by cloaked ships or encounter a boss unprepared. Having to restart after ten to fifteen minutes, erasing (sometimes) hard-fought progress, isn’t going to win the hearts and minds of gamers expecting a leisurely stroll. Ammo management, knowing what weapon is best suited for a given room, and careful pacing on your part will generally keep you alive to the end of a stage. That slow plodding approach is a critique in itself, though, as you’ll likely have to break up the monotony into three-or-four stage chunks in order to digest the whole game (expect to set aside three to four hours).
Still, I’m happy to say these bits are few, and the exception rather than the rule. With plenty of stages, enemies, and formidable weaponry on tap (try collecting all 30 stars), Genix doesn’t shortchange you for the price. The challenge can and will spike, and it will feel like a bit of a trudge if you try to power straight through it, but it’s an enjoyable ride in summation.