This year's Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime was inundated with a number of local multiplayer games in some unexpected genres. The good news is that a number of those titles made great quick impressions that convince you it's worth picking up. One of those titles was Shoot Shoot Mega Pack, and the minute we got our hands on it, we wanted it.
The game mechanics are simple enough. Your left analog stick rotates your ship, and you have one button to initiate thrust and one button to fire. For the most part, your objective is to be the last person standing in each game, and the winner is the first one to take three rounds. It is very easy to understand, but the demo on the show floor didn't have a vanilla mode. Instead, there were five different modes that changed the base mechanics so it never ceased to feel fresh.
The first mode seems like a standard twin-stick arena shooter, minus the fact that the second analog stick is never used. Shooting at an opponent does no damage to them, but it pushes them back when a bullet hits them. Furthermore, every shot taken results in the arena getting smaller, and hitting the wall is a guaranteed kill. In essence, you're playing a sumo match where the arena shrinks when anyone attempts an attack.
The next mode tethers everyone together with some limitless cords. Walls are no longer lethal, but gunfire is. The interesting twist is that when one person performs an action aside from rotating their ship, everyone mimics it. Activate your thrusters, and everyone else moves in the direction they're facing. Likewise, fire a shot, and everyone does as well. In a sense, this is probably the more strategic mode seen in the demo thus far.
The third mode gives everyone free movement again but also makes bullets non-lethal. The bullets push players around but create a vortex at the site of bullet impact. Since deaths are only counted when someone gets sucked into the vortex, your job is similar to that of the first mode, where you try to push opponents into the vortices that are created. Consequently, shooting a vortex that's present on the board, regardless of who created it, will make it expand in size, and the arena becomes more dangerous when plenty of them litter the field.
The fourth mode is simpler, as it is the closest to a basic shooter. However, everyone is invisible and only appear when they shoot or get shot. It becomes a frantic guessing game that will catch most players off guard. Finally, the last mode is a random combination of the ones you've already played through. Whether it's shrinking walls with tethers or invisibility with vortices, anything goes.
The true sign of a good local multiplayer title is when you see and hear the enjoyment from players and spectators. That was present in spades at Pax Prime 15, where spectators gathered around the game and players were all smiles, even in defeat. It helps tremendously that the controls are very easy to pick up, thanks to the limited use of buttons. It also helps that the modes are easy to understand, since few people died due to not understanding what to do. There's still a need for skill to win, but there wasn't a time when one felt outclassed by another, and the sense of having a chance to win is definitely a big thing in ensuring everyone gives the game a shot.
For the brief time that the demo lasted, Shoot Shoot Mega Pack left a good impression. The concept is simple to understand, and each mode's twist to the base mechanics make each match rather unpredictable. It remains to be seen if more gameplay modes are added before the title launches in 2016, but even if it just sticks with these, players will have another great multiplayer hit on their hands.
More articles about Shoot Shoot Mega Pack