boss_kowbel's Sixty Second Shooter Prime (Xbox One) review

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Sixty Second Shooter Prime Review: A Dual-Joystick Dud

Sixty Second Shooter Prime wishes it was Geometry Wars, and perhaps in a perfect world this Vita-to-Xbox One follow-up would suffice as a substitute for the twin-stick mania that Geometry Wars propagated on the Xbox 360. Sparing one minute for genre fans to enact retribution on the game's online leaderboards, Shooter Prime makes sense on a handheld platform, in short feverish spurts rather than bladder-testing marathons. But the time-per-dollar-spent ratio is not the worrying part. The Asteroids-like presentation sabotages high scores.

Shooter Prime progresses in difficulty as players pass through portals that pop up on the playing field. The farther you progress, the greater the points to potentially earn. Blasting through a portal causes the backdrop to fracture like a window pane, however, as if you were falling through the stage. While this effect distorts perceptions of your whereabouts, the game whizzes on. Enemies spawn before your ship lands, sometimes in the exact location Shooter Prime drops you. Dozens of deaths occurred as I shot through a gate to the next level, then instantly plummeted to my death upon a stray polygon.

When the ship is the color of the shattering glass, you know the developer was not thinking ahead.
When the ship is the color of the shattering glass, you know the developer was not thinking ahead.

Enemies also burst into fireworks when destroyed, the aftermath of which blurs other hostile shapes and their bullets. I perished over and over because of projectiles I could not see, that I would have been able to intercept in better-made titles. The camera even parks itself inches above your ship. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved provided a spacious look of one's surroundings, letting fans plan and execute twitch maneuvers milliseconds before a collision. Shooter Prime blind-sides players.

The opposition either chases your ship to the ends of the Earth or hovers lazily about, functioning as roadblocks. The coils, for example, shatter into speedy pyramids that tail you tirelessly, and their initial acceleration boosts outpace your movements. If you detonate a spiral close by, it will trade its life for yours. Worse, when you destroy enemies off-screen while doing laps of the arena, the chances you will slam into another figure increases drastically. I lost track of the times I was evading pursuits from behind when I soared straight into the remains of another shape.

Chief among them, the cubes disintegrate into smaller blocks when shot, populating the area with annoying remnants that ricochet off walls. However, their numbers are not the detriment your ship’s hitbox is. Unlike Geometry Wars, you only receive one life, but throngs of enemies I could skirt through in more competent twin-stick shooters stopped me short here. The hitbox appears wider than the ship, and the blaster is a piss-poor alternative for Geometry Wars’ cannon, even with double fire, quadfire, and octofire power-ups. I felt powerless in Sixty Second Shooter Prime, in a game that relies on split-second reactions.

Can you find the ship near the center of those explosions? Now, envision the chaos in motion.
Can you find the ship near the center of those explosions? Now, envision the chaos in motion.

The blaster discharges unbearably slow, too, as if it is discontent doing exactly what the developers programmed it to do. I was practically shooting spitballs at my attackers until I collected a couple power-ups. The precision power-up slows time to a crawl, the bombs blow up immediately, missiles activate manually (though they cause explosions equal to the bombs), and the ram-boost temporarily raises your speed and leaves you invincible. You unlock those game-changers steadily in Mode 60, which lasts sixty seconds and terminates in a stunning death blossom. Mode Infinity, on the other hand, replaces the precision power-ups with hourglasses that extend the countdown clock.

The power-ups almost look identical when you're bobbing and weaving for your life.
The power-ups almost look identical when you're bobbing and weaving for your life.

Still, the power-ups continue the trend of letdowns. The missiles take their sweet time detonating, and they cannot clear the screen like Geometry Wars’ bombs. The ram-boost proves to be invaluable for racing to portals quickly, but there is no protection once the invulnerability wears off. If you strand yourself in a sea of angry polygons when the turbo dissipates, it is lights out for you. Moreover, the cannon power-ups expire before you can put a real notch in the hostile fleets.

The only commendable aspects would seem like secondary or tertiary buying factors to the average consumer. Once players reach a set score, they can start the game at level five, shaking the slow build-ups inherent to early dual-analog shooters for immediate anarchy. Players can change the background colors as well, from sepia to rainbow and so on, to find the right color code that won’t burn out one's corneas. The time it takes to restart after dying also seems lower than in Geometry Wars.

The cost ($4.99) will likely sell several copies, too, since similar releases charge at least double that price. And when you include achievements, every one of which can be gained within two hours at most, the hunters and whores come running. I ultimately fall in that category. 1,000 gamerscore for a few dollars and a nominal measure of skill? I wasted money on worse, though I can still have more fun for less.

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