Xbox 360 Indie Game Review for Echoes+

This game is just insane. It plays a lot like another well known, overhyped dual stick shooter we all know. Yes … I’m very much aware I’m in the minority for not liking that game. Regardless of that, this game has almost everything it needs to be flat out awesome.

Echoes+ doesn’t claim to be anything special. You fly around, blow stuff up and die. That pretty well sums it up. And I do die, a lot. My high score in the main single player mode is 11,609,285. And there’s a whole other zero I haven’t filled in, nor do I think I’ll ever do it.

But that doesn’t keep me from playing the hell out of it. And it having 6 game modes, 4 different difficulty settings and tons of replay value help that immensely.

I decided to put this up on here, because one of the podcast listeners won the game and I figured they might be curious as to what I personally think of it. Well, read on. And if you don’t have the game, still read it. Because this game is just awesomeness. And this is coming from someone who didn’t like dual stick shooters in the first place and is just sick to death of them. Especially since they a dime a dozen in the indie games section of Xbox Live its seems.

Let’s start off with the outright basics. You’re a little ship in space, and you fly around shooting at asteroids, black holes and even the occasional sun. There aren’t technically any enemies in the game, unless you count the sun that actually does shoot at you. You fly around with the right stick and shoot with the left. And the trigger sends off a bomb. There are various health pickups (yes, you read that right. No retarded one hit kills here. Except in a couple of modes.), temporary invulnerability shields, weapon upgrades, extra bombs, orbs that are worth different amounts of points and a yellow powerup that raises your multiplier.

The options menu holds different things where you can adjust your ship speed, the rumble, the sound effects volume and music volume. The screen flashing and the screen shaking. But the only thing I’ve ever touched here is the ship speed which I set for the fastest speed because I like being able to get out of the way. The ship may require multiple hits to kill, but that doesn’t mean I want to get hit.

The graphics are simple but have a lot of great style to them, each of the asteroid types have their own look and you can immediately tell what’s going on. The explosions are awesome, the effects are awesome. When you finally die you get a spectacular explosion. The menus look great. The frame rate stays at a steady lightning fast pace regardless as to what’s going on. The sound and music are both awesome, and I wish I had the soundtrack to this to blast out of my car for my night job. It’s kind of a mix of techno, jazz and rock.

Now let’s get into the game modes themselves. The first one you’re going to see is echoes. This is a 10 level (well, I believe it’s 10 levels) bash’em. You merely go through level by level, with it introducing new enemy types as you go along. While this is fun and is obviously different every time you play it, it is what it is. The next is time attack. You have 3 minutes to score as high as possible. This is probably the one I play the most because it lets me kill time while something is downloading or I’m waiting for an email or something.  Survivor is what you think it is. Survive as long as possible. If you get hit once, you’re dead. I never played this because I just don’t think that’s anywhere near fun. One hit kills should have gotten hit years ago. You don’t even really pay attention to scores in this mode, you just try to survive. Classic mode is pretty much classic Asteroids with the occasional saucer. The graphical style here changes drastically to more mimic an old green screen vector arcade game, and could easily stand along as a little 80 point game in my opinion. Of course, the retarded one hit kill mess is in this mode as well, but it’s also not quite as insane as the main mode of the game. Asteroid Belt you can see in the screenshot above. One of the enemy types is a snake of red/orange asteroids that will chase you all over the screen and gradually get faster as they go. And can make quick work of your ship if you let them plow into you. This is the mode that I play when I want to play this game for more than a few minutes, though the highest I’ve ever gotten is level 25. This mode doesn’t give you any powerups, and you start off with your weapon maxed out. And finally there is meteor storm. This is a mode that takes advantage of the blue asteroids that travel in a line through the screen. The difference here is that one of them is yellow and holds a multiplier powerup.

The game has high score tables for each of the different modes, but unfortunately they aren’t shared over Xbox Live which is the one big feature this game is missing. I could honestly really care less about the actual sharing of online high scores, but a game like this definitely needs a feature like that and would add to the replay value infinitely. There are also 25 “zoots” which are basically achievements for doing various things in the game. Of which I have 11% of right now.

9.0 – This game is just awesome and one of the best dual stick shooters I’ve ever played. Despite the fact that there isn’t any multiplayer (unless you count going through and trying to best your friend’s high scores as multiplayer.) and the unfortunate lack of online high scores, get this game. Even if you’re like me and flat out sick of dual stick shooters. It’s only 240 points, has near endless replayability, high production value and is just worth every little Microsoft space buck you’ll spend on it. This could very easily be an XBLA game, it’s just that good. If nothing else, keep the trial around because this game has one of the best trials I’ve ever seen for an indie game on the Xbox 360.

David Miller is a writer for Geek Gamer Radio, you can give him a piece of your mind at david@geekgamerradio.com, on Twitter @Dhalamar, or leave a comment below.  Be sure to visit his blog at http://www.wastedseconds.com

 

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