Developer: Queasy Games
Release Date: Late Summer 2007
The term "everyday" is often applied to something that lacks style or innovation, but Everyday Shooter, available later this summer via the PlayStation Network, is not so... well, everyday. Everyday Shooter is indeed a shooter that will draw instant comparisons to Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, but it was not made with competition as the core design element. Instead, creator Jonathan Mak of Queasy Games believes it should simply be enjoyed, much like a record.
"It's like a music album," said Mak, "except instead of it being a collection of songs, it's a collection of shoot 'em ups."
Indeed, each of Everyday Shooter's eight stages differs significantly in presentation and slightly in gameplay, though the control scheme is maintained throughout the entire game. Like the aforementioned Geometry Wars, players can use the left analog stick of the SixAxis to move, while the analog stick allows the protagonist (a simplistic square) to fire in all directions. However, players will also have the option to use the face buttons to fire, though those accustomed to Geometry Wars and similar recent knock-offs may find the fully analog scheme more familiar.
Each stage features its own complete visual overhaul, with distinct backgrounds, music, enemies, and items. Like flOw, Everyday Shooter is not a game that takes full advantage of the Cell processor, but it succeeds with sharp, simplistic subjects and vibrant compositions. As with Lumines before it, this is a game as concerned with style as it is substance, so while the gameplay certainly seems familiar, the chill atmosphere and flash provide simplistic thrills that can be taken in by all gamers, not just skilled shooter fans.
Though Mak compared the game to a traditional album, it also draws heavily from the iPod generation. A "song bar" at the bottom of the screen constantly displays one's progress through the track, giving players an idea of how much time remains until the next stage. Additionally, a Shuffle Mode is available from the main menu, allowing players to take on the eight stages in a random order. And just like Lumines and its cleared blocks, the destruction of enemies in Everyday Shooter triggers a musical sound effect, constantly altering the audio output of the title.
We didn't see enough of the game to really notice the gameplay shifts between levels, but Mak claims that the key differences come with stage-specific modifications to the chain system, which itself is a fairly vague aspect of the experience.
"The chain system isn't explicitly explained to the player," noted Mak. "It's something that you sort of discover on your own. I really like it when games give you that sense of discovery, like, 'Oh, I didn't know you could do that!'"
Scoring in Everyday Shooter is tied solely to the collection of cubes that appear in the wake of fallen enemies. While the proliferation of point-bearing cubes makes viewing the screen a bit more of an adventure, it is well worth picking up as many as possible. Earned points will be used to unlock additional content, such as increased starting lives and skins that completely change the look of any given stage. We saw one skin change a vivid landscape into something that appeared to be sketched by hand with black chalk. Needless to say, it significantly altered the experience, even if the gameplay mechanics were retained.
We mention Geometry Wars often because it seems (to us, at least) to be the most modern and mainstream title to use similar gameplay mechanics, but Mak disagrees. "I don't think it's fair to compare it to Geometry Wars just because it's not the same type of gameplay," he said. "Geometry Wars is a very competitive game; you play for a high score. In this game, it's more about just experiencing each track."
After playing bits and pieces of Everyday Shooter, we understand where he's coming from. Even against a large boss bearing dual tentacles, the game lacked the constant tension seen in similar shooters. Everyday Shooter is more concerned with rhythm and pacing instead of constant firepower, which is best evidenced by the fact that not firing your weapon allows the ship to navigate much more quickly. Survival is still the name of the game here, but unlike Geometry Wars, you don't feel forced into it.
From its inception, Everyday Shooter has been a one-man project, with Mak crafting the music, visuals, and gameplay code while also initially balancing the rigors of a day job. Now that Sony Computer Entertainment America has picked it up for release, Mak is focused solely on the completion of the title, which he believes will hit the PlayStation Network later this summer. With possible influences stretching all the way to cult favorites like Rez and Vib Ribbon, we have to wonder about Everyday Shooter's mainstream potential, but that shouldn't stop it from being a quirkily addicting download. Keep an eye out for this one.