Here's another little enjoyable nugget from Radiangames, the one man development army otherwise known as Luke Schnieder. He's been knocking out top-notch, ultra-cheap XBLIG titles with alarming regularity recently. This is his fifth release since May.
Whereas Fluid flirted with some of the mechanics of Geometry Wars' glorious Pacifism mode, Fireball goes one step further. Like it's predecessor, Fireball isn't actually a shooter at all. Instead, this one is all about avoiding the slow-witted, yet doggedly relentless snowballs that home in on you, tracing your every move.
Skirting and circling around them with your flame tailed fireball, the idea is to build up as big a bunch as possible before blasting them to smithereens. Achieved by coming into near contact with pinkish spikey bombs, they'll pause a beat then decimate everything in your wake. The more snowballs you destroy, the higher the multiplier you earn.
It's not all about Pacifism cloning, however. Fireball has a few twists of its own, like the nippy burst of speed offered by the trigger buttons. Another way of racking up the points comes with the Novas created by larger explosion chains. Pick up one of these bad boys and they effectively act like a smart bomb, obliterating everything on screen. Think of it as a perk.
There's a few different modes too. The main one, 'Waves' sees you survive... well, waves of snowballs. The challenge modes, meanwhile, task you with enduring an onslaught of enemies for three minutes with a selection of different rulesets, each changing up the size of the playing area, the amount of bombs and the behavior of the enemies.
There are, occasionally wobbly, online scoreboards for each mode too, ensuring some replayability if you're the competitive sort. Which, lets face it, we all are when it comes to games like this.
Like Schneider's other games, Fireball shares a lot of visual similarities with other neo-retro twin stick shooters. All over-saturated colours and top-down explodey-ness, it's a slightly gaudier take on the zeitgeisty look peddled by the Jeff Minter-loving indie masses.
Such is its familiarity, you have to wonder whether this kind of style has become a little too commonplace. It has quickly become the indie shooter equivalent of the grey, post-apocalyptic city. The fall back look. Perhaps I'm being over-critical, such polish is rarely found among Microsoft's XBLIG service. But it would be nice to see a bit of a change.
Fireball is another modest triumph from Radiangames. Schneider's work really does guarantee a bite-size quality that is hard to match on it's given platform, at it's given price. I'd like to see what he will come up with given a more expansive, ambitious brief, but for now, at only 80MP, this is a perfect little appetiser for future projects.