TOKYO--Tucked away toward the back of Bandai's booth are two modest kiosks showcasing the latest PSP mind-bender from Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment, Every Extend Extra, or E3 for short. The oddly named game appears to be a new version of a popular home-brew game called Every Extend from Japanese developer Omega and is being billed as a "music + shooting" game that's in line with last year's "music + puzzle" game Lumines. Though it's easy to compare the game to Lumines--because they do seem like oddly distant relations and share similar music and art sensibilities--E3 is a decidedly different animal.
E3 is essentially a rail shooter that sends you down a tunnel, firing at debris that appears from every corner of the screen across your path using a cursor. However, the game is far from a simple point-and-shoot affair. First off, your number of shots is limited. Second, your run is timed. The only way to succeed in the game is to use your shots judiciously to create massive chained combos of explosions. Each shot you fire has the potential to detonate nearby colored debris. The debris includes green bonus pickups that increase your score, which you'll need in order to gain more "extends," or shots; red pickups, which speed you up; and basic time extensions. It's an odd system to be sure, but it's incredibly addictive once you get the hang of it. You'll need to get the fundamentals down, as the boss fights you'll engage in will require you to create combo chains in order to do any kind of damage to the boss. And you still have to manage your time and be quick on the draw--the first boss we encountered was fond of hoovering up the debris we were trying to use to create the combos we needed to take him out.
The visuals in the game are a Technicolor explosion of neon, pop art, surreal design, and flying pigs. If it sounds a little trippy, that's because it is. The backgrounds offer an insane collage of imagery and signage that makes little to no sense but fits the game's surreal nature. As for the flying pigs, a few happened to fly in and spray colored light everywhere as we made our way through the game. It was a bit odd but not entirely unexpected. The audio appears to be bass heavy and to favor a straightforward throbbing not unheard of in most clubs. The demo on display at TGS uses many of the same sound effects for Lumines, which we expect may change.
From the look of it, E3 is a promising puzzle game that will likely hook players in much the same way that Lumines has. The stylish visuals, engaging music, and addictive gameplay all add up to be just the kind of game that lives in your PSP.