I have discovered that there’s one thing that can instill rage and fuming anger more handily than trying to play an old arcade game; playing a new game designed like one of those old games. I bought Gravity Crash on PlayStation 3 as part of Sony’s half-off sale last week even after the demo left me feeling exceedingly novice. It’s also not advisable to come off of PixelJunk Shooter and dive into Gravity Crash because, though they may have similar mechanics, they are two entirely different creations.
Gravity Crash is brutal. It takes only a single pixel of your ship brushing the landscape to destroy it and weapons fire seems to take ages to cross the screen while aiming isn’t as accurate as I expected. Graciously, the devs have broght a little modern design to the game for those of us who can’t get our heads back into the early 80’s with twin stick controls and an indispensible shield system. Even the shield demands more from you than most modern game. In Manual mode you have to activate it yourself and while dodging enemy fire, combating gravity and keeping an eye on where you’re going it’s still a challenge to stay alive. Automatic shields work as you’d hope but you’ll have to find crystals throughout the level to keep them charged up. Those crystals are also imperative to your survival as they refill your ship’s fuel. More complexity comes with intermitent meteor showers, expansive and labyrinthine new stages, switches that need flipped and target quotas that must be fulfilled. And I’m only on the first few planets of 30+.
I feel surpremely inadequate falling back on twin stick mode with automatic shields but that’s what it’s going to take to get me through this game. I was a little too young for Lander and the other games that Gravity Crash draws its inspirations from and I’ve found I have very little patience for that punishing style. I honestly left for work after my first play enraged at the game and, embarassingly, at everything around me. I thought it was raining but when my wipers failed to clear the windshield I realized it was the spit and sputum I was projecting in epic swears that clouded my view. Swearing about how impossible the game was. How this guy won’t change lanes! How tiny everything was and how hard it was to hit. How my stupid lunch isn’t warm yet! How the gravity is constantly pulling you down while water incessantly pushes you upward.
Yup, Gravity Crash is a pretty daunting game but I love the art, the glowing vector look of everything and how these tiny little cookie-cutter structures manage to feel like a real alien world to me. I’m not beaten but I admit that my gamer pride is in need of some emotional salve before I go back.