Star Crisis - September 13, 2010
Developer: Funkmasonry Industries
Price: 80 ($1.00) Microsoft Points
GroovAn earlier release on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace, Groov is also one of the best. While it may not seem so at first, with its minimalistic approach to menu and box art design, what makes Groov unique is its dynamic soundtrack. As the game is played, every action affects the background music, with some enemies creating trumpet noises, while the player's lasers may make a synthesizer sound effect. This all makes for a very innovative twin-stick shooter, despite that idea almost being an oxymoron within itself.
Groov plays essentially the same as many other twin-stick shooters, whereas one stick controls movement and the other controls the weapon (and the trigger unleashes a time-slowing bomb). On its own, the game is competent considering the main focus is on the soundtrack, and not the gameplay. Other than that, there's not much to say about Groov's gameplay, as it's all pretty standard fare.
Initially, only the first mode is unlocked, titled Original Mix. In this mode, enemies attack in waves, with a new wave approaching each time that a set point amount is reached. After completing all of the waves in this mode, Expert Mode is unlocked; an endless mode akin to Original Mix (sans the waves), with the goal of getting the highest score possible. Once a high score of over 50,000 is attained, the mode Jam Session is unlocked. Jam Session is possibly Groov's most unique mode. In there, players can change sound effects on the fly (including the sound of the player's lasers and the drums in the background), all while staying completely invincible. This mode is surprisingly fun, as I've found myself coming back and playing it multiple times.
Taking a minimalistic approach to visuals, Groov is still a good looking game when in motion. Enemies pulsate and explode in beat with the music. Ship design for both enemies and the player is very good, and the entire design of the game seems to be inspired by Geometry Wars [GB Franchise Link] (the original version, not Retro Evolved). The design really complements the fact that Groov is largely an auditory based game, and I don't feel like it really needs more than that.
At first glance, it doesn't seem like Groov would make that much of an impression. Despite its rough edges, Groov is actually a great twin-stick shooter with unique audio-based gameplay and three interesting modes. While its simplicity may initially be a deterrent, this ends up being one of Groov's most attractive features. For only 80 Microsoft points, Groov is a complete steal, and comes highly recommended to just about anyone.