The easiest way to explain Graceful Explosion Machine, the vibrant, side-scrolling from independent developer Vertex Pop, is super fun.
Pilot the Graceful Explosion Machine (GEM) and fend off a crystalline alien army while searching for a way home. Use the quad-weapon array with its blaster, energy sword, missiles and sniper beam to chain massive combos. Remember how you felt getting monster combos in Guitar Hero? It’s almost the same feeling here, but in an old-school, Gradius-like setting. But it’s more than just a wild arcade-type experience. Deep gameplay and colorfully designed, it’s tough as nails.
This side-scrolling shooter’s on-point access to various weapons is what makes this game an enjoyable one. Having to fly through each level learning the tutorial within the first three stages is something that barely any side scrolling shooter does. Take Contra as an example, that game had no instructions within the start of the game- you had to know ahead of time what is to jump or what is to shoot the main weapon. Luckily, Graceful Explosion Machine understands today’s gamer and prepares them for the wild action.
The visuals in Graceful Explosion Machine are also colorful but easy on the eye. Not having to worry about too much pacing issues, or even a sync issue while taking on a ton of enemies on screen at once makes it super accessible to anyone. The free-roaming within each level is also super unique. Being able to go back from where you started the level from to even killing past enemies to rack up your score and increase your multiplier to refill your ammo for your arsenal.
The audio for this game is on the average side of things however. It queues up when shots are being made with the Sniper shot, or the Missiles locking on and destroying multiple targets. Zipping through the stage and also the soundtrack is very subtle towards the chaos that appears on screen when getting a warning sound of enemies showing up in a specific area. While it doesn’t hurt the game, it’s not as sexy as everything else.
Luckily, the controls for the game are super easy and the relaxing pace of being able to react with 4 different uses of weapons makes things super fun and strategic. Simply put, the weapons are awesome. The first, a Sword weapon, is great for enemies in close proximity and great for when your rapid fire machine gun overheats. The Sniper shot which is like a huge Kamehameha Blast is a ton of fun too, while the last weapon, Missiles, can even be controlled by the player to an extent. Also to mention you have a turn button and also a boost button to either fix the angle of shooting or zipping through the level going after the next wave of monster or enemies.
While the story is a basic linear idea of you the player is fending off enemy’s while searching for your way home, it’s a beefy experience, with multiple stages and a challenging for score attack. Being able to fight through the leaderboards makes for nice and friendly competition to see who is the best player to clear the level with the most points and fast time.
Overall, getting a game where you can relax and shoot aliens and having a fun time spamming the many options of weapons to clear the level makes for good times. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling shooters such as Contra and also like games like Gradius, it’s like they’re little, cooler, better-looking brother.