Remember drawing ridiculous monsters in the margins of your school notebooks? Sometimes you came up with some pretty cool stuff; other times, you scribbled them out so no one would look at you like you were nuts. No matter what, all of us have had bizarre creations spring from our pens and pencils while our minds drifted during an interminable lecture.
It turns out that a game developer with a couple of sons that like to draw decided to tap into that wellspring of creativity to put a unique twist on a classic genre. Scribble Shooter is an old-school vertical shoot-‘em-up that borrows heavily from games like Galaga and Xevious; picture hordes of enemies and weapons exploding all around you while your spaceship careens desperately across the screen. Its hook is that the game is entirely hand-drawn by two kids, with an animation style that’s at once charming and utterly bizarre. In addition, the audio is voice-recorded, including (literal) “pew pew pew” sounds when certain weapons are fired.
While it looks like a kid drew it, it would be a mistake to assume Scribble Shooter is easy. Quite the opposite, actually – it’s intense and delights in kicking your butt. There are 10 levels, and each one is progressively harder than its predecessor, culminating in a boss fight. Every level introduces creative new enemies and ramps up the speed, volume, and complexity. In addition, you’ll need to replay the entire level if you don’t beat the boss; old school indeed!
There are loads of weapons to choose from if you’re able to grab the power-ups that appear from time to time. Rockets, powerful lasers, slave ships, reverse-direction bullets, and others are all available. In addition, shields can be acquired, and they come in very handy. There’s a lot of strategy in choosing which ones to grab, and it’s incumbent upon you to only nab one you’re not already using (lest you waste it). Shooting at a power-up before you grab it will change it to a different one, which adds another layer of tactics. Should you go for a more powerful gun, or get defensive with a shield?
The biggest problem facing Scribble Shooter is that it’s only available inside PlayStation Home – there’s no way for you to play from your PS3 menu without first venturing into Sony’s online populace. While we understand the mentality of wanting people to experience Home, the series of steps you need to take to actually play Scribble Shooter is unnecessary and ultimately detrimental to the game. You need to download and install Home, get through the tutorial, venture to the Central Plaza to find a Scribble Shooter cabinet, play the first level, then purchase it. Once you’ve done that, you can put a cabinet in your Home apartment (assuming you can navigate the ridiculous menus to make that happen) or just keep heading to the Plaza and play the full game.
A game as charming as Scribble Shooter deserves better than being buried inside Home. It’s fast-paced, addictive, and has the right blend of originality inside a classic genre that will please a wide array of gamers. Here’s hoping enough of them can find it.
Aug 5, 2011