Shoot 1UP (Xbox Live Indie Channel)
2D shoot-'em-ups, such as R-Type and Darius, were once the money-munching mainstays of arcades, luring in unsuspecting punters with their bright neon explosions and techno soundtracks. Lately, the genre hasn’t seen action in the mainstream, but indie developers have been working hard producing games to ensure the humble shmup doesn’t die. One such game is Shoot 1UP, developed by Mommy’s Best Games.
In true shmup style the premise of the game is simple; aliens have invaded your home world and its your job to exact revenge by shooting the hell out of them with your ship. You face off against all manner of odd-looking alien ships, dodging bullets, and racking up points. The action is viewed from above, with your ship moving toward the top of the screen, though some sections introduce R-type-style side scrolling. A major gameplay twist comes from an ingenious life system. You collect 1UPs from floating orbs that appear from destroyed ships. However, rather than simply add to your stockpile of lives, each additional life is added to your existing ship. As more are added, you have the ability to expand and contract your ships using the shoulder buttons. Contracting them lowers the chances of being hit, while expanding them allows you to spread your stream of bullets out. This hits more enemies but increases the likelihood of your own ship getting shot, creating a great risk-versus-reward mechanic that adds to the challenge when you’re swerving through bullets.
Visually, Shoot 1UP sticks to 2D, combining classic 16-bit era sprites with luminescent explosions and some seriously creepy enemy designs; its not often you get to fight against a giant woman with detachable metallic breasts that fire lasers. Other nice touches include customisable difficulty, allowing you to change the game speed on any difficulty level, and leaderboards so you can compete with your friends top scores. Shoot 1UP is a mere 80 Microsoft points on the Xbox Live indie channel, so if you’re after some old-school shmup action its well worth a look.