Everyone has ideas. Often you hear them when you’re in a group of gamers prefaced with “Man, I gotta finish learning how to make games…” There’s a pause and inevitably someone pipes up with “I’m going to make a game that has dinosaurs equipped with modern technology that fight parallel universe Nazis.” or “My game is going to be a strategy game that incorporates platforming elements mixed with light RPG elements and is set in the Dr. Seuss universe.” Everyone has ideas, but not all of them are good. In fact, the majority are pretty terrible. Rare are the ideas that are so strong, so absolutely amazing that they stun people just talking about them. Retro/Grade is one of those ideas. Here it is, brace yourself:
You are the classic lone spaceship pilot against the alien hordes and you beat them, congratulations you won! Except there’s a hitch. You see when you won, you accidentally caused a rip in the space/time continuum that almost annihilated the universe. Now the only way to repair your mistake is to travel backwards in time to fix your damage. But this game isn’t the rail shooter it looks like. When the clever beginning ends and the game starts, you find that this is a rhythm game that forces you backwards as you align yourself with the shots you took, dodge the enemy bullets (you already dodged theoretically when time was moving forward), and maneuver on multiple lines avoiding ships all to a smooth techno beat.
I imagine that when this idea was pitched it was like a bomb that gave everyone the feeling of enlightenment, orgasms, and simultaneously got everyone there pregnant Nine months later everyone gave birth to ATMs that just crap money.
I don’t know if you realize it yet, but I really enjoy Retro/Grade. Like I said the idea is clever, the beginning credit sequence is smart, the score getting lower, the visuals of reversing a missile barrage, and then the end of the level when it flips it around and shows you going through the level forward is all fantastic. The fact that I can dust off the old guitar controller for a last game before it goes to wacky controller heaven next to my Super Scope and ROB the Robot is nice too. The soundtrack is fantastic, the mellow techno fits right in to the awesome visuals and the retail copy is going to come in a game/soundtrack bundle for a few bucks extra and I can’t wait to jump on that.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, after all this isn’t Rock Band or Guitar Hero. Moving the ship from line to line was the hardest thing to get used to, and understanding what to do isn’t readily apparent when lasers and bullets are flying, but eventually you start to get it. Once you do there’s a ten round campaign mode (counting down from level 10 to 1) and a challenge mode that throws all kinds of monkey wrenches into your game, but unlocks some goodies. There’s a wide variety of difficulties as well which is nice, if you feel the current level is too much for a board drop it down to “MediumCore” for a bit and practice.
If you have a PS 3, and a controller that’s collecting dust and enjoy a wildly different and fantastic take on rhythm games Retro/Grade is the game for you. Even if you’re casually interested, but lament not having a guitar controller, you can use a regular controller pretty easily. Don’t miss out on this one guys, you’ll have a blast!