Every Extend Extra Updated Impressions

We check in on Q Entertainment's newest PSP title that blends music and art into an addictive package.

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We first got a look at Q Entertainment's upcoming PlayStation Portable title Every Extend Extra at last year's Tokyo Game Show. The game made a very positive first impression thanks to its accessible gameplay, dense art style, and catchy tunes. In the months since our first look, development on the title has proceeded apace, and the game has bulked up quite a bit. We had the chance to try out the latest work-in-progress version of the upcoming game recently, and it's looking great.

Every Extend Extra started out as freeware, and now it's heading to your PSP.
Every Extend Extra started out as freeware, and now it's heading to your PSP.

Besides Every Extend Extra being a very cool game, the upcoming title has a rare Cinderella story of how it came to be. The game began as a simple freeware game called Every Extend that hit the Net roughly two years ago. The simple, addictive game was the brainchild of a student who went by the moniker Omega. The game was well received and eventually came to the attention of a staffer at Q Entertainment, who pushed for Q to do something with the game. A little while later, Q tracked down Omega, who was in his early 20s and is actually still in school. Following some positive chatting, Q began work on expanding the modest original game into a PSP title dubbed Every Extend Extra.

So just what is this game all about? At its core, Every Extend was and is a stylish experience all about high scores. The game puts you in control of an explosive cursor that you can move around the screen. You'll find yourself traveling down a tube and alternately avoiding and detonating debris that flies across the screen from every direction. As the debris is blown up, it will leave behind pickups that will help you out along the way. There are three types of colored pickups: green for bonus points, pink, which will increase your movement speed, and yellow which extends your time. The meat of the experience is creating wicked combos that rack up scores. Besides earning you bragging rights, the lengthy, chained combos are key for dealing with the bosses you'll come across. There are several catches to the experience that add just the right amount of urgency to the proceedings. First and foremost is that you're at the mercy of a timer that is counting down painfully fast. You'll earn more time by creating the aforementioned combos and grabbing the pickups that drop from certain enemies. The next biggie is that you're only able to trigger a set amount of detonations. Pickups and combos will earn you more explosions, but as things get more hectic, you'll find that you'll be cutting it close. The game's presentation is a funky and bizarre mishmash of art styles that's equal parts old-school arcade game and flashy, modern visuals.

For the PSP game, Q hasn't made any radical changes but simply expanded on the promise of the original game. You'll find three basic mode types--single, versus, and sharing--that will let you test your scoring skills. Single mode will offer four variations: arcade, caravan, boss, and original. The arcade game will send you on a journey through the game's nine levels, called "drives," and they all feature radically distinct art, music, enemies, and bosses. Caravan appears to be a low-key run through the game without the stress of being ranked. Any of the stages you clear in arcade mode will be playable in caravan mode. Boss is the tentative name for a challenging back-to-back encounter with all the bosses in the game. Original is just that--the original shareware version of the game. Finally, in terms of controls, a regular charge is accomplished by pressing the X button; dropping bombs can be executed by pressing the right shoulder button, which is new for the series.

The versus mode is a one-on-one competition between you and a friend that requires you to mess up your opponent by creating a series of chains that will lob a massive object onto his or her playfield. Time and explosion limits aren't an issue in this mode, so you can focus on what's important: stomping your opponent. Finally, the sharing feature lets you share the game with a friend...so you can stomp them.

The visuals in the game have been polished up and refined since we saw the game last year. Each of the drives has its own funky look and name that helps them all stand on their own. Liberal use of color and layering goes a long way toward giving the game a unique but (considering how different every drive is) oddly cohesive look. There's a crazy, anything-goes aesthetic that suits the action well. Despite the work-in-progress state of the version we played, there's not a lot to gripe about beyond the occasional frame rate inconsistency. One thing to note is that the original version of Every Extend gets a bit of a face-lift from its simple origins but stays true to its roots.

Brightly colored pickups will help you keep your game going longer.
Brightly colored pickups will help you keep your game going longer.

The audio in the game is a snazzy collection of sound effects and club tunes that are in the same vein as the original Lumines, which is most definitely not a bad thing. The effects mix explosions and audio samples that hip you to what item you've picked up. The music is very good, and each tune matches the look and feel of the respective drives well.

From what we've played, Every Extend Extra has all the makings of another Lumines-style piece of gaming crack. The gameplay is accessible, with just the right hooks to be addictive, and the visuals are clever and interesting. Though you could say that nine drives isn't a lot, the various modes and the challenge to get the highest possible score known to man should lend the game ample replay value. If you're looking for a cool title for your PSP, you'll want to keep an eye out for Every Extend Extra when it ships for the PSP this fall. Also, in a nod to synergy, the game will contain a demo of Lumines II. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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