It has been a while since I have bothered with an Xbox LIVE Arcade title as most of them have been, well… pretty pants. So grabbing hold of the code to review Triggerheart Exelica did not really give me anything to smile about, that is until I played it, and suddenly found myself immersed in a hectic shooter with a hell of a lot going on, with pretty fine graphics and audio to boot. Developed by Warashi Inc, Triggerheart Exelica is quite literally a blast!
Triggerheart Exelica is a classically designed arcade vertically scrolling shooter where you will be given the choice of two humanoid weapon systems and will face off against hordes of on screen enemies through five hectic levels. Each Triggerheart has a different mode of firing their main weapon which also receives power-ups throughout the game, but both Triggerhearts have the ability to shoot out an anchor to either overload a target while pounding them with their main weapon or better still to capture a target and swing it around allowing you to use the captured foe as a shield or to release them into a group of enemies with devastating effect. In addition to your main weapon and anchor you also have a bomb which causes your Triggerheart to jump up into the air and drop a bomb creating a huge explosion, and massive amounts of damage in the process. Bombs are limited, although you will find upon destruction of certain enemies, that additional bombs are dropped for you to collect.
The system of anchoring a foe and using them as a weapon is a superb feature and the bigger the enemy the better the effect when you release them into another group of enemies. Although it does have to be said that in later levels you never quite feel you have the time to grab an enemy, avoid all the other incoming fire and have your main guns blasting away all at the same time… but mastering this is essentially what will net you the huge points and get your through the game.
Gameplay exists with just a single player mode being able to choose between the two available Triggerhearts making your way through the five levels and depending on how good you are a V.B.A.S. (Variable Boss Attack System) kicks in. This means that the pro’s with the high score will find the bosses harder to beat than players that are struggling to stay alive and retain their score. This again is a neat feature as a lot of shooters end up being frustrating affairs guessing that the player is amazing but with Triggerheart Exelica even the average, normal gamer can blast through the five levels in around 20 minutes.
The difference here with how fast you can get through the game and one that creates an element of longevity with what is a fairly small game, is based around the achievements. Getting through the game without using a single bomb and relying on an endless list of continues is one thing and will only net you a few of the available 200 points. But should you wish to take on additional enemies that will not usually appear, and get through the game without dying is a whole different kettle of fish. Triggerheart Exelica is a very hectic game and getting through five levels without dying once is a bloody hard thing to do. Couple that with retaining your score and collecting enough objects to take on the bonus bosses – even harder. So while you can be forgiven for assuming that this game will be a walk in the park and probably not worth the purchase, you would be wrong. Being the best of the best in this game takes a tonne of practice and therefore just comes down to you having the motivation to keep perfecting your approach or not. If you as the gamer will do that, well… that question is over to you.
Graphically this game has been built with the HD setup in mind and is visually very slick. Audio presentation also lifts the experience to another level and when things on screen go boom they do so with amazing effect. I could not fault anything here and my senses got a treat as a played.
Problems with the game will only exist for the gamer that is shooting for the full 200 points and if like me start to become frustrated with “how on earth” you can do it. To unlock the bonus boss attacks, you need to collect and retain a lot of the dropped items on screen and taking damage reduces your total collection. So in essence you need to play perfectly avoiding all incoming fire and use your anchor to devastating effect if you wish to grab the harder to unlock achievements. For me this is never going to happen but I do have to say that this game while being very short is a tonne of fun to pick up and play, and a very nice change to see a Xbox LIVE Arcade title that is worth the download and marketplace points.