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Shred Nebula First Look

CrunchTime Games took the lid off its new space shooter for Xbox Live Arcade, and we got the details.


Earlier this month, we took an in-depth look at indie developer CrunchTime Games, founded by longtime industry veteran James Goddard and staffed by a handful of fresh-faced college grads out of a garage located on Goddard's ranch in Chandler, Arizona. Now we've also gotten an initial look at CrunchTime's first independently produced game, the forthcoming Xbox Live Arcade shooter Shred Nebula. Before you groan about yet another Geometry Wars clone on Microsoft's download service, take heart that there's no twin-stick control or omnidirectional shooting to be found here.

The toxic sludge attack will mire pursuing ships, slowing their movement.
The toxic sludge attack will mire pursuing ships, slowing their movement.

On the contrary, Shred Nebula hearkens to more classic overhead spaceship games such as the seminal arcade blast-a-thon Asteroids and, more recently, the 1997 competitive multiplayer shooter SubSpace. As in Asteroids, your aim in Shred Nebula will be constrained by the direction your ship is pointing in, so your flying skills will be as important in a dogfight as your shooting ability. And Goddard cites SubSpace's diverse range of spaceships as a major influence on Shred Nebula, which will itself offer an array of playable craft, each with a unique set of attributes governing speed, durability, and special attacks.

Each ship will also have countermeasures you can deploy at the right moment to deflect or dampen the attacks used by your enemies. Goddard spent part of his early career working on the Street Fighter series at Capcom, and likens Shred Nebula's asymmetrical rock-paper-scissors design to that of a fighting game, in that each ship will be stronger or weaker against another given ship due to the characteristics of their respective abilities. The game will feature 20 ships in total--including the artificial intelligence-controlled enemies--and the playable ships will obviously be a subset of that total, though CrunchTime isn't talking specifics on the number or particular traits of the playable ships. We do know there will be more than 40 stages in total, each of which will feature unique obstacles or traps, such as a nebula that might burn the hull of your ship when you fly too close.

The company also isn't divulging all the details on Shred Nebula's various single- and multiplayer modes, though we do know there will be two separate single-player game types--one of which sounds like a straightforward score run, and the other of which presumably will focus on a linear level progression driven by story. Multiplayer is also a bit of a wild card; it will support at least four players (though we're hoping for more) and will offer leaderboards to track your performance, though again, CrunchTime isn't talking specifics on the rules of the multiplayer modes just yet.

This enemy's tractor beam will wreak havoc on your ability to fight back.
This enemy's tractor beam will wreak havoc on your ability to fight back.

One thing Goddard did confirm was Shred Nebula's price: 800 Microsoft points (or about $10). The game will be available on Xbox Live Arcade in "early 2008," and CrunchTime will make more information available in the coming weeks on the game's official site. We'll endeavor to bring you hands-on impressions during that time, too.

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