Every Extend Extra Import Hands-On

We jack into a Japanese copy of the next techno-throbbing, neon-soaked puzzle experience from Q Entertainment.

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Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment has already released two games--Lumines and Meteos--that blend unique meditations on fairly traditional puzzle game concepts with very pronounced artistic styles. So it's little surprise that the company took an interest in Every Extend, a homebrewed PC freeware game that Q Entertainment has enhanced significantly and turned into the upgraded Every Extend Extra for the PlayStation Portable. We've been playing the import version since it recently hit store shelves in Japan, and we're here with our thoughts, as well as a big heap of new gameplay videos for your viewing pleasure.

Every Extend Extra takes the idea of a top-down space shooter, abstracts the setting, and then turns black to white by making the repeated destruction of your "ship" a key gameplay mechanic. You control a simple star-shaped cursor on a static field as slow-moving shapes and the occasional bullet-spewing enemy drift onto the screen. Conventional wisdom would tell you to hammer on the fire button to clear the field, but there is no fire button here. Instead, you can hit either the square or the circle button to explode your cursor, which creates a shock wave that explodes any objects caught in it, and then those exploding objects create their own shock waves, potentially making for some massive chain reactions.

Grab your glow sticks--Q Entertainment is back with more techno-laced action.
Grab your glow sticks--Q Entertainment is back with more techno-laced action.

Those massive chain reactions are key to your survival, since you start out with a limited number of times you can explode, and you earn more by scoring big points. There's also a countdown timer for you to contend with, and though you can gain additional time by exploding certain enemies, we found that the timer added a good sense of urgency. As an exclamation point of sorts, each level of the arcade mode ends with a unique boss encounter that usually demands that you create chain reactions of a minimum size to advance.

We spent most of our time in the game's arcade mode, which is divided up into a series of different levels, and in what has almost become a Q Entertainment convention, each of these levels comes with its own visual style and background music. What we've heard of the music so far remained generally consistent, with lots of vocally driven techno music akin to that of the Lumines soundtrack, but the visuals change much more dramatically from level to level. We've found ourselves fighting gray cubes, horseflies, and what appeared to be written Japanese characters as neon signs, concentric rings, and abstract wireframe shapes scrolled by behind the action.

After playing through the arcade mode for a bit, we gained access to the caravan mode, which let us jump to any of the levels we had already played through in the arcade mode, as well as a boss attack mode that functioned similarly. Additionally, Every Extend can be played in its original form, which we found provided a sharp contrast to all the production work that Q Entertainment has done in adding the Extra.

The constantly changing art style is one of the things that will help keep EEE fresh.
The constantly changing art style is one of the things that will help keep EEE fresh.

We also played a few rounds of the two-player versus mode, where we were challenged to create chain reactions around a massive meteor-type object that hangs out in the upper right corner of the screen. Though our opponent didn't appear on our screen, damage we did to the rock caused the rock on our opponent's screen to expand further into our opponent's playfield, and vice versa. Of course, if you can make this rock big enough, you'll crowd out your opponent entirely and take the match. There's a good tug-of-war dynamic to it, and since there's no time limit, we could see multiplayer games going on for a while.

The gameplay hasn't impressed us as being quite as deep or challenging as Lumines or Meteos, but we still had a good time with Every Extend Extra, thanks largely to the game's inspired and constantly changing art style, something that we're certain will appeal to fans of Q Entertainment's past works. Every Extend Extra is set to hit North America later this year.

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