I’d like to think that Matt Glanville (@crowbarska) has a working time machine permanently set to 1983 he’s not telling anyone about, as his games I’ve played to date all look and play like solid arcade hits of around that time. Switch ‘N’ Shoot is still one of the more thrilling and flawless uses of single-button gameplay I’ve experienced and now you have two more retro-inspired titles to blast away with, both quite good and deceptively simple on their surfaces, but each will have you hooked in for as long as you’re playing.
Ghost Grab 3000 ($4.99) is a nifty shooter that’s a hybrid of bullet hell and strategic shot placement as its lead character needs to line up or gather well-armed ghosts and blast away as many as possible while trying to survive each round. There are a couple of weapons to whip out in an emergency situation, plus a nice upgrade system with over 100 combinations allowing you to tailor your ghost grabber as you like. Part of the fun is buying those upgrades and enhancing your character, as you can create a hero that makes the game easier or, if you want to play with as few upgrades as possible, harder. That’s a bad idea, by the way – go buy and use those upgrades, I say.
(Thanks, Matt Glanville!)
The game is a sort of endless arcade-like entry that you can hop into and play for a few minutes or a few hours and there’s a solid sense of accomplishment in racking up all the points you can as the levels progress. Getting all the ghosts on a map with one well-placed shot feels quite rewarding, especially as things get hectic and you’re deftly dodging enemy shots. Controls are finely tuned here and any mistakes you make are your own fault when they occur. One thing to pay attention to is energy expended while taking out ghosts needs to regenerate, thus the need to learn when to time shots accordingly. The music here deserves note for being about as good as it gets for capturing the arcade aesthetic of the time period. Other than backgrounds that rotate some environmental elements in 3D, the game looks and feels like a classic coin-op that was lost to the ages.
Singled Out ($4.99) has more of an ending in its 30 levels (29 in Practice Mode), but it’s still a game you’ll go back to thanks to leaderboards and yes, the need to keep on top of those rankings if that’s your thing. The game is a memory-based timed shooter where you need to identify and eliminate a galactic supercriminal within ten seconds using three identifiable facial features. There’s a non-violent mode as well where you capture your target in a cell rather that shoot it, so the game it totally enjoyable if you’re into a more non-violent approach. And yes, the music is also great here (as if you had to ask).
Things start out simple enough, but as you progress, more weird looking alien faces are added to your choices and the difficulty increases. Shooting or capturing the wrong target ends the game instantly, as does running out of time if you can’t pick your targets quickly enough. Practice mode removes the timer, so it’s highly recommended for new players as it allows stress-free play and lets you train for the main event normal mode brings. I haven’t yet unlocked the third mode, so I had to cheat and look online to see what’s in there. It’s a Memory Mode that gives you clues that vanish quickly, so you need an even sharper memory and of course an accurate trigger or caging finger.
The only thing really missing is a more arcade-like endless mode where you could pick the number of rounds to play and have at it with or without a timer, but that’s just a suggestion, not an improvement. I’m much better at playing and enjoying games that making then, that’s for sure. Matt’s game are just pure to the point that I could actually see all three of the ones released on console sitting together as arcade machines you’d want to step up to and drop a few quarters into back in the day. Well, you’ll have to ask Matt if you can use his time machine, but you can also just go by his games now and not have to deal with the time tripping, as it’s mot an easy ride back for everyone, I hear.
Score: Ghost Grab 3000: B+ (85%)
Singled Out: B (80%)
-Review code provided by Matt Glanville