Energy Hook Preview

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“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does things that only Spiders can, swings about, in the air, at weekends he straightens his hair, look out, here comes the Spider-Man………”

Ooooooookay.. Remembering song lyrics isn’t my forte and why the hell am I (badly) singing bastardised Spider-Man lyrics? This is a preview of something called Energy Hook.

Well boys and girls, Energy Hook is bought to us by former Treyarch developer Jamie Tristrom. Now at the helm of developer Happion Labs. He’s the man behind Spider-Man 2 and even more importantly, the creator of one of the few 10/10 scores for game reviews on FGUK for the brilliant 60 Second Shooter Prime

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Spider-Man games, but the portions of the said game that did work for me were the web-slinging frolics, the acrobatics and general web jizzing. Energy Hook was born of Kickstarter and now comes to Steam Early Access with the silky smooth Fristrom at the centre of the action and command of this action filled web.

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OK, so we’ve established that the gentleman behind this game once worked on a Spider-Man game. What in the name of goodness is Energy Hook then?

Energy hook is essentially a Spider-Man game without the expensive licence that developers have to pay or a poorly written story that seemingly has dragged many other super-hero games down. Energy Hook is all about the action, pure and simple agility all the way. Webs have been replaced with…..yes, an energy hook. Swing around a selection of maps, completing various challenges, stunts, objectives and general fast paced swinging tomfoolery. Not only do you have the aforementioned web ‘like’ power of swinging, you also have a jet-pack attached to your back, (looking like three kitsch frying pans it has to be said).

The game also allows you to improve your gear, with points earned through skylarking shenanigans, you can level up both your energy hook and jump boost for more powers and faster manoeuvres.

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Now as it is, the current build is clearly an early access build. With seven potential maps showing in the menus, only two of these are available to play at the moment. Some have a percentage of completion and some not. Each of the maps that are open include challenges and objectives as well as some bonus levels.

How does it play? Mechanics play well, the sense of speed is very good. The camera can seem awkward, the scenery is slightly reminiscent of a cheap film set- wobbly and cheap… But it’s early days.

Energy Hook in its current build is short and sweet and that’s how I will keep his preview for now. I know that Jamie Fristrom is working very hard to get this game finished and add the much needed levels of polish, if you want to help a small, quality independent developer, buy in now. If you have reservations. Keep an eye out for my follow up piece when the game nears completion.

Already on Early Access Steam and planned for consoles, this is one for action fans to keep an eye on.

Frugal Gaming Review – Sixty Second Shooter Prime

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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

I was planning on writing this review in just sixty words, but sixty seemed like fifty eight too many and yet still no where near enough to sing Sixty Second Shooter Primes praises. The two I would have chosen were “ Buy it” and if I was going for three words I would have added “now” at the end.  Six words would have probably ended with “you crazy fool” Hopefully you get where I’m going with this.

It’s first incarnation- sans the Prime, was released back in 2011 on the Chrome Web Store and it’s still available there for free with adverts, or without for a small price.  It’s still a solid browser based game, but much like Optimus, the Prime has made the good Sixty Second Shooter great.

The Xbox has a strong history with twin stick retro shooters.  Geometry Wars by Bizzare went on to be one of the most downloaded games during the 360 lifetime and although Bizzare are no more, Jamie Fristrom and his studio Happion Labs have proved themselves more than able to continue this tradition.

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So more about the actual game.  SSSP does what it says on the tin.  Each game lasts up to sixty seconds.  If you can last that long it tasks you with steering your ship around a beautifully realised play area, avoiding a multitude of different enemies, whilst blasting away and trying to build your score.  Sounds so very simple and at first glance it is, but after a few hundred seconds of playing the depth of the game suddenly becomes clear.

With the idea to build your highest score, there are a surprising array of ways to achieve this.  Enemies left alone will multiply, so you could wait a while letting their ranks swell and then take them all down for a bumper payout.  Perhaps you’re after a harder challenge? Well you can drop through the current level to the one below, where sterner foes gather.  It’s all tied together with a combo system that will see your score leap up for consecutive kills and an interesting power up dynamic.

The more you play the more power-ups you unlock.  Once unlocked, these still need collecting whilst playing by flying your ship over them. From missiles for taking out groups of foes, a short boost that makes you invincible, dual and quad fire, precision mode which slows everything down and a score multiplier which can really see your score rocket.

As you progress, other unlocks include an array of different graphics options which change the hue of both the playing field and the enemies, to an infinite mode where time is not an issue and you just have to survive whilst adding to that ever important score.  The inclusion of leader-boards is such a great incentive to keep playing, always trying to best the score of your friends, as are the achievements on offer. Challenging and yet perceived as attainable, time will tell if i’ll squeeze out the full 1000G on offer but I’ll certainly be giving it a shot.

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One More Time

Sixty Second Shooter is a perfect bite size chunk of gaming goodness, you can play this in the time it would take other games to load up. Several times now, whilst heading to my Xbox One to play something else I’ve often found myself booting this up for a couple of quick games, ignoring the AAA £50 game I originally wanted to play. For a game that costs just £3.99 on the Xbox store that’s quite an achievement. Looking at the Happion Labs webpage, Jamie Fristrom states that his proudest accomplishment in the gaming industry was inventing the dynamic, physical swinging system in Spiderman 2 back in 2004, in the not so distant future I think he’ll be able to replace that with creator of Sixty Second Shooter Prime.

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Sixty Second Shooter Prime is avalable for xbox one and can be found here http://store.xbox.com/en-GB/Xbox-One/Games/Sixty-Second-Shooter-Prime/04df8851-c3e5-40d6-82dc-b0d17d0f93aa

Developer: Happion Labs