EveryDay Shooter

EveryDay Shooter is an indie love letter to the arcade-style shoot-'em-up. The tributes are all right out in the open: The game opens on an abstract scene that apes the disco-ball aesthetic of Tetsuya Mizaguchi's Rez. Scrambling bugs nod to Centipede, chunky robots echo Robotron 2084, and swirling dogfighters mimic the aerial combat of Time Pilot. In a mere eight levels, designer Johnathan Mak escorts players through an interactive history lesson in the beloved gaming subgenre that spawned Smash TV.

EveryDay Shooter isn't all about looking backward, though. Mak performed and recorded the game's guitar-driven soundtrack, firing a broadside across the convention that electronic music is the accompaniment of choice for electronic games. The tracks create a sort of ambient riffage. Bullet impacts add notes, so players participate in creating the composition. Mak's stoner-rock songs ricochet between styles: One sounds like a Built To Spill sound-check. Another starts like the intro to a Matthew Sweet rave-up, with each destroyed missile adding an extra flourish to a guitar solo. The music creates a vibe more relaxing than knuckle-whitening. And the game's lack of a leader board offers additional insight into Mak's philosophy. Each level reboots the game rules, making players adapt to the new scenario. Scoring, points, and survival are important, but EveryDay Shooter would rather players observe and absorb the game's evolving mechanics than strive to one-up the rest of the planet.

Beyond the game: EveryDay Shooter was shown as a work-in-progress at the 2006 Game Developer's Conference. Sony picked it up at the 2007 show. We're expecting big things from Mak next year.

Worth playing for: A humane unlocking scheme lets players spend the points they earn during play to access later levels. The days of marathon Geometry Wars sessions are over.

Frustration sets in when: The PlayStation 3's wireless Sixaxis controller is prone to losing its connection—a major annoyance when you're desperately attempting to skirt a game-over.

Final judgment: Video-game navel-gazing with a shoegaze soundtrack.

More Game Review