previews\ Aug 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

Gunblitz demo impressions


Developer Rapture Game Studios is currently hard at work creating its very first title, Gunblitz. The game, which is a 2D shoot 'em up, is set to launch for PC this September. But here's the cool thing about Gunblitz (aside from its title): Rapture has confirmed that the game will also be available on the Ouya in March 2013. That's right, we've got a 2D shmup to look forward to on the upcoming Android-based console! I decided to check out the PC demo for Gunblitz, and so far, the game is looking like a truly challenging, retro-inspired shooter worth watching out for.

Gunblitz really manages to hark back to the old school days of space-themed shmups. When I first saw the game, R-Type immediately came to mind. That's not necessarily a bad thing by any means considering R-Type is a beloved NES-era shooter, so any similarities between the two games are most definitely positive things.

Gunblitz - PC - 1

The first thing worth noting about Gunblitz is its challenge. The game manages to strike a balance between tough and fair. Enemies come at you in waves, and it doesn't take too long to encounter threats that shoot projectiles at you, massive bosses that fill up one side of the screen, and baddies that just rush you like crazy. Like classic shmups, a little persistence and memorization will go a long way. Gunblitz is one of those games that teaches you to watch out and be careful rather than playing recklessly. You know, just like retro shooters.

Enemies you kill drop pick-ups that you can collect to replenish your spacecraft's health after taking damage. Despite the fact that every enemy drops these health items, you never have an unfair advantage. You take a lot of damage, so you're going to have to shoot down those enemies and collect that health. Additionally, you can't get away with simply holding down on the fire button. Do so and your ship will overheat, which will cost you one life. You can cool down your guns by hitting the space bar on the keyboard, but even this technique can't be spammed, so you're going to really have to watch yourself. I thought this aspect of Gunblitz added a nice touch to the experience, because you're never some superhuman space explorer. If you want to survive out there, you'll have to know when to shoot to kill and when to evade so your guns can cool down.

Gunblitz - PC - 2

I should point out that I didn't actually get through the entire Gunblitz demo. I reached the second boss, but I simply couldn't penetrate its defenses long enough to destroy it. What were its defenses, you ask? A bunch of enemies and asteroids. Oh, and constant up-and-down shifting on the boss's part. But I didn't get frustrated after being defeated (multiple times). I couldn't get frustrated. Gunblitz clearly takes inspiration from the iconic shmups of old, so I was never expecting the game to go easy on me. I was expecting to get a game over screen, even after fending quite well for myself, and that's exactly what happened.

The demo for Gunblitz only supports mouse and keyboard controls. You can use the WASD keys to move your carrier through space, the left mouse button to fire standard shots, and the right mouse button to shoot missiles, which can be aimed. It took a while to get the hang of the controls, but after a few minutes, I found it to be pretty functional. I imagine Rapture will add traditional gamepad support down the road, and the game will likely control well using the Ouya's controller.

Gunblitz - PC - 3

Even though the Gunblitz demo totally kicked my butt, I still had a lot of fun playing. I imagine the game will be even more fun once gamepad support gets added to the final product. Fans of classic shooters should definitely watch out for the PC version. That said, Gunblitz has the potential to be the Ouya's first real shmup hit — the shooter that all other shooters will follow on that platform. Is that a lot of pressure for Rapture? Maybe. Can the studio pull it off, though? With Gunblitz being the dev's inaugural title, it most certainly can.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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