Finally. After two years and a lineup of wannabes as long as Tommy Lee’s… list of sexual partners, there’s finally a top-down arcade shooter worthy of being compared to the 360’s amazingly compelling neon-and-techno laserathon, Geometry Wars Evolved. It’s just as colorful, just as fresh, just as likely to infect you with the “just one more game” fever, and even more unique despite a charmingly humble, wildly inaccurate name: Everyday Shooter.
On paper, Everyday Shooter seems typical. You are a small, haloed diamond-thing that moves around the screen with the left analog stick and belches pulsating destruction in whatever direction you point the right stick. Mostly abstract geometric shapes begin to drift by, and you blow them up. It’s standard gameplay copied straight from the Big Book of Top-down, Two-stick Arcade Shooters written by Robotron 2084 back in 1982.
Except it’s not. Not even close. As you start pumping hot geometric death into the various shapes around you, you’ll immediately notice that every direct hit adds a note to the churning guitar music in the background. Neat. Then you kill a larger enemy, and a chord is struck. Then, you blast one particular enemy and it blossoms into an explosion that causes any enemy it touches to explode as well, and any enemy that touches that explosion blows up to, and so on, leaving a mosaic of blinking white dots that you collect for points.
And that’s when you realize this isn’t a simple shooter. It’s a shooter with interactive music and a deeper, almost puzzle-like strategy: Should you just blast everything, or should you let the screen become clouded with enemies and hunt only the ones that cause chain reactions?
Then the song ends, the soundtrack to level two begins, and everything changes. Here, there are organic “home base” enemies, sort of like plasma-spitting amoebas, that swell, grow, and interconnect with one another via barely visible wires. If you overcome the urge to play a guitar solo by picking away at the smaller enemies and concentrate on destroying a base, the damage ripples down the wires to connected bases, accompanied by a sound that vaguely resembles plucked bass strings.
Level three is, of course, another totally different musical, artistic, and gameplay experience, as are all of the game’s levels (there are nine in total). Each has its own rules, its own look, its own sound.
Despite the sensory treat, several subtle flourishes reveal a considered approach to the gameplay itself. There is no smart bomb or hyperspace or other “get me the hell out of trouble” button, but your ship is so small, it’s able to weave among the enemies to great effect. Plus, your shots speed up when you stand still, which agonizingly tempts you to allow even indestructible enemies get far closer than you normally would before moving away. Finally, every game played earns you points that can be used to unlock different visual effects or to make individual levels available in practice mode - good for when you get stuck.
Our one real complaint? We’d have liked those dots you collect for points to be a little more magnetic because it’s too easy to miss them. Beyond that, Everyday Shooter’s remaining weaknesses aren’t really faults so much as narrowly missed opportunities to be even better. The music isn’t tied to the gameplay as elaborately as it perhaps could be - for example, there’s no reward for killing enemies in time with the music - and the parts themselves could stand to be more dynamic. Also, adjustable difficulty (this thing gets brutal) and multiplayer modes would have been icing on the cake. But when it’s all said and done, the only thing “everyday” about this shooter is how often we’re playing it.