Let’s Shoot 1Up, and Then Another!

Review of Shoot 1UP on XBLIG: Buy
A fun vertical scrolling shooter, Shoot 1Up lets you play with all your ships at once.

I always felt Galaga was superior to Space invaders, and not because of graphics.   It is because of one feature – letting the player control two ships at once.  Though I was never successful at keeping my second ship alive very long, I went for two ships every chance I got.  Shoot 1Up takes this idea and runs with it, allowing me to control 30 ships at once.

At the core, Shoot 1Up is a run-of-the-mill vertical scrolling shooter.  There are six levels, each ending with a boss fight and then a final boss.  Enemy ships will appear from all directions, some large and some small, and will leave behind extra life tokens or sometimes a power up like “Ghost Ships” which creates a mirror set of ghost ships that double the total firepower.  Three difficulty settings are provided as well as a game speed control, making the game approachable to beginners while still giving a challenge to the hard core.

The difference maker for Shoot 1Up is the way ship lives work.  Instead of playing one ship at a time, all lives are played at once.  The ships move in unison, and can be called into a tight formation for evading enemy fire or expanded to cover more area.  When the ships have expanded beyond a certain point, a beam will form in the middle of the formation.  Called the Plasma Auger, this beam is a Death Star like weapon than can reduce large enemy ships to space dust in seconds.  The further apart the ships formation, the stronger the Plasma Auger.  The down side is if the last ship is destroyed, the game is over.  There are no extra lives to fall back on.

While the Plasma Auger gets most of the attention, the ship shields are worth note.  Instead of a standard shield that blocks incoming lasers, shields are used offensively.  A brief pause from shooting will raise the ship shields (each ship has its own shield), and then pressing the fire button will “pop” the shields.  Enemy lasers in the shield range will be destroyed, and nearby ships will take damage.  This feature adds an element of strategic thinking to the game – you cannot just hold down the fire button and expect to survive.

Shoot 1Up has a few game modes in addition to the normal shooter.  The game supports two player coop, and also a “Score Trek” mode.  In Score Trek the player has only one ship, and instead of lives there are power ups that let the single ship fire the Plasma Auger.  In this mode progress is saved, but only if the level boss is destroyed.  Another interesting mode, found under the Options menu, is “Single Button Mode”.  This mode is exactly what it sounds like, the entire game can be played with one button.  The ships will shoot and expand or collapse on their own, and a flashing arrow will appear around them.  Pressing the button will fly the ships in the direction of the arrow.  This is a novel, if pointless, mode but I found you can still use all the other buttons in Single Button Mode.  Played this way, it turns the game into a computer assisted control mode, making the game easier, but fun for someone who wants the least amount of twitch in their twitch gaming.

The graphics are top notch, unique, and very interesting.  I wouldn’t be doing my job as a reviewer however, if I didn’t mention the fourth level.  The story is light in Shoot 1Up, so I can’t say why, but in the fourth level the mission is an assault on the planet of naked women.  The planet surface is made of lusty images of nude women, with just enough covered to meet approval for the Xbox 360 censors.  At the end of the level is the boss “Mecha Lilith”.  I can only guess that Lilith is the girl who mocked developer Nathan in high school and this is his revenge.  Mecha Lilith is full of rage and plasma, so much plasma it streams from her breasts.  As Lilith becomes more damaged her rage increases, which makes destroying her with the Plasma Auger feel all the more awkward.  The image of the white, hot, Plasma Auger shooting all over the face of enraged Mecha Lilith, well… the message is clear.  Do not break Nathan’s heart or he will mock you in a video game.

Shoot 1Up is a solid Buy.  In addition to the above, there are features like achievements (the indie self-made kind since Microsoft still blocks indie games from official achievements) and unlockables.  Each level has an optional flight route, which adds even more reason to replay the game.  Not that you’ll need any excuse to play more Shoot 1Up!

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