Released earlier in the year on PlayStation Portable, Every Extend Extra was Tetsuya Mizuguchi's take on a popular PC freeware game Every Extend. Now that the game is coming to Xbox Live Arcade too, Mizuguchi-san is adding yet another word to the title with Every Extend Extra Extreme. Even the man himself had some trouble remembering the overly-alliterated moniker during our interview, but thankfully that didn't detract too much from his demo of the game itself.
Every Extend Extra Extreme follows the same basic idea as previous games in the series. Waves of enemies enter the screen, and it's your job to control a target reticule to create explosive chain reactions that rip through the enemies. The longer the chain, the more points you get, and enemies leave time, shields and 'quicken' bonuses for you to collect in their wake. 'Quicken' gradually increases the number of enemies on-screen until they're literally filling all the available space, while a thumping dance soundtrack provides a musical accompaniment to the on-screen action.
Visually the game has had quite a makeover since the PSP version, taking full advantage of the Xbox 360's graphical effects and high definition output. Each of the four stages has a unique visual style, with crystal-like enemies on the first level right through to submarines and airplanes on the fourth. The Xbox 360 version also features vibration through the pad, which helps you to detonate in time to the music for even higher point bonuses. There's also an online head-to-head multiplayer mode and leaderboards, although these were not shown during our time at Q Entertainment.
All these features are pretty standard for an Xbox 360 release, but the new custom soundtrack option really brings something new to the genre. Basically, the game will let you drop up to 1,000 of your favourite tunes into the game, and the BPM of each song will affect the game itself. EEEE can analyse this itself, and you can help fine-tune the results in a manual mode by tapping the A button in time to the music. Once stored, the BPM data of your track will affect the pace of the enemy attacks, while the scores and BPM data will be available for other Xbox Live users to see on the leaderboards.
The single player mode is split into E4, S4 and R4 modes. The E4 mode is meant to induce a trance-like state by playing out for as long as you have time and detonators to use. For those with less time to spend, there's also a time-limited game mode where you can play through the four levels for five, ten, fifteen and twenty minutes respectively. The S4 mode is the aforementioned custom library feature, while the R4 mode changes the game into a more traditional shooter. The revenge mode, as Mizuguchi-san described it, is no less frantic than the E4 game mode, but it has more in common with shooters such as Geometry wars as the target reticule fires out bullets as opposed to detonating.
The Xbox Live Arcade iteration of Every Extend looks like it's shaping up to be the definitive entry in the series. The game is visually accomplished, features new multiplayer options and a brand new game mode with custom soundtracks. Perhaps the best thing is that the game launches very soon, with a tentative October release date that should be firmed up after this year's Tokyo Game Show. Expect a full review of the game soon.