It is the year 30XX and Earth is at peace thanks to a Shark Attack Force, a group of Humanoid Sharks made to fight terrorists and criminals. The human race had launched a new space shuttle to explore the galaxy, and despite its success of discovering new life forms and planets, a mysterious life form breached the shuttle and directed the ship toward Earth. With Earth now at risk of war and invasion, Shark Attack has been sent to deal with this threat.
Out of all the video games I play, the ones I enjoy the most are the shmups (aka Shoot ’em ups). So when I heard that a small group of internet musicians was making a horizontal shoot ’em up, mixing the classic style game play from the best shoot ’em ups in the 90s with the bullet hell madness challenge of modern Japanese titles for the PC, it got my full attention. The game is developed by Psurge Design, the small recently founded game development & design group consisting of Mischief (aka Squeedge) and Mayhem (aka Renard), both well recognised in the furry community for their artwork and kick ass chip tune and electronic music, so it was surprising to see they were also really decent at making their own game.
The main visual inspiration for this game is Turbografx and even though the style is very faithful yet superior. The colours are very bright and vibrant, the art style is unique and the animation is simple. There are some 3D effects but it isn’t overblown, which makes the 2D have more attention and detail. The 2D effects are quite clever, and also not overdone so all the focus is on the game play. It is what you expect from very well experienced artists and designers.
The music is awesome, Renard is known for electronic and chiptune music and remixes, so if you like that style of music (especially 16-bit/8-bit chiptune) then you will love the game’s soundtrack. As for other sounds, the only voice track is on the game’s story based opening, which sounds so old it’s awesome, if it was perfectly clear and modern it would be really boring. Other sound effects are short aren’t really a big deal so you can enjoy the music.
The game plays similar to any other side-scrolling shoot ’em up in existence: You press the directional keys to move and the Z button to fire (hold Z to auto-fire). Where this game differs from other shooters is its power up and special attack. The special attack is the focus mode, which identifies your weak point, and helps you position yourself precisely to dodge oncoming bullets and aim at enemies, the only downside being is that it slows you down which is bad when you are trying to collect power ups, which move at the same speed with or without the focus.
The power up and scoring system is the main feature of this game. When the player shoots a certain enemy, a Power up Capsule will fall out, touching it will make the player’s standard weapon powerful for a period of time and increases the player’s multiplier, and collecting more Power Up Capsules will make the player more powerful, for a longer period of time and increases the player’s multiplier. It’s quite creative and it encourages the player to get as many power ups as possible and frustrates them whenever they lose a life, since you instantly lose your power ups.
If I was to give any criticism, it would mainly be its length. There are only six levels and besides having three difficulty levels including a training mode, there isn’t much replay value. However, the game is really challenging and it’s worth the $8 to pay for.
Shark Attack is available from Psurg Design (http://renard.teknolust.org/psurg/sharkattack.html) for $8, if you are on the fence of getting it and wants to try it out there is a free demo where you can play only one level. If you want to buy official soundtrack which has the 37 original tracks and arrangements of the game music, it’s available from lapfox bandcamp (http://lapfox.bandcamp.com/album/shark-attack-original-sound-track-arrange) for $5.