Graceful Explosion Machine is a very basic shoot-em up that takes classics like Galaga and Asteroids and meshes them all together in to what really is a very fun and sometimes frustrating (in a good way) experience. The game is basically just that, shoot other types of spaceships through different phases and then move on to the next world. However, the difficulty increases with each and every world and phase you encounter. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro, also available on PC and Nintendo Switch.
This is to me where the game truly excels. They take some of the simplest mechanics of gaming and turn them in to a fun addictive shooter. Rather than what most 2D side scrolling games do by basically putting you on a rail, headed in the same direction, this game allows you to freely move around left and right. You are given some tutorial levels where you will get power ups to help you with the sometimes overwhelming number of enemies on the screen at the same time. The four power ups you receive before venturing on to other worlds are the Blaster, Energy Sword, Sniper Beam, and the ever so often used Missiles.
The Blaster is just your regular firing mechanic, however use it too much in succession and it will cause it to overheat, making you wait even longer until you can reuse it again. You just need to pay attention to the meter at the bottom of the screen to know when to let off the firing and when to engage again. Your Energy Sword becomes a very useful weapon when you are surrounded. It swings a mighty energy beam about 2 feet from your ship, damaging multi hit enemies and killing the single hit enemies. You can also use this to come up behind stationary enemies that are firing at you to take them out without them being able to see you to fire at you. The Sniper Beam becomes critical at some points of the phases when you have over powered (basically over shielded) enemies. Simply hold down the button (whichever is allocated on your platform of choice) and it will send a beam of light destroying the enemy within no time at all. The Missiles are by far my most used power up. This sends homing missiles out in to the area that seek out nearby enemies and either destroy them (single hit ones) or damage them enough to where your blaster can finish them off pretty easily. The main issue here is, just like your blaster, these too can be overused. Each enemy you destroy leaves behind particles in which you will want to try to fly close enough to in order to pick them up. This is what fills the meter for the last 3 power ups. So if you are surrounded and use say missiles to clear out a path to get away, but some how miss picking up the particles left behind, you could find yourself in a predicament of not having enough firepower to get yourself out of the next jam you’re in until the meter replenishes itself.
Graphics and Sound
This is an area where the game can take you back to the games of yesteryear. The sounds you will get from firing the weapons can make you feel all nostalgic and reminiscent of the great shoot-em ups from our past. It transported me back a few times when I would spend hours playing Galaga and/or Asteroids (yes I’m aging myself here). The graphics are very simplistic, but in this scenario there isn’t anything truly fancy needed in order to enjoy this wonderful game. I find that games like this tend to not get the recognition or the support they deserve (rightfully my opinion here) due to the underwhelming graphical look of the game. However, I am hoping that more people start to notice these little gems hidden among the mighty giants of 3rd party publishers and 1st party exclusives. These gems are games on the cheap that you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
In short, this game is something I think people can really enjoy. It’s not a graphical powerhouse but what it lacks in the graphics department it definitely makes up for in the mechanics and gameplay. The overall difficulty to the game does tend to lend itself to the gamers looking for a challenge as it starts out feeling quite on the easier side building up to sometimes the frustratingly hard side of things (but truly in a fun way). Too many games with difficulty like this get a stigma about them. I find that when you beat a level that you’ve been trying multiple times to get past, one of the most rewarding feelings in gaming. Without this difficulty type, that feeling of accomplishment really isn’t possible.