Old-school exploration hits XBLA
Cut from the same cloth as old-school action games like Metroid, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet proves that simple-yet-engrossing gameplay can trump special effects and cutscenes most any day of the week. In fact, the story of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet can be summed up thusly: You’re an alien with a spaceship. Your homeworld has been invaded by a shadow creature. Kill it.
And that’s all you really need as you pilot your way through a maze-like massive world with varying climates and themes and you blast away at parasitic creatures spawned from the master shadow monster. And blast away at these creatures you shall, as you’ll earn an assortment of various weapons: standard missiles, blasters, and scanners, along with more novel weapons like buzzsaws and barrier shields. Of course, each new weapon will only make you want to explore even more, as they’ll not only help you take down certain foes, but also open up new paths. Rewards ranging from concept art and more of the game’s backstory to armor and blaster power-ups await you if you choose to explore the entire map.
The only downside that comes from having such a large assortment of weapons and paths is that you find yourself constantly referring back to the map to see where to go next—or, even with four assignable hotkeys, needing to go to the weapon wheel to change your armament of choice. This tends to break the pacing, and it’ll no doubt slow down the experience for all the completionists out there.
Still, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a wonderfully addictive old-school romp that uses simple, tried-and-tested techniques to pull off a winner. The limited color palette works perfectly for the theme of the game and helps put your sensory emphasis on the mood-setting music as you blast away in classic underdog style with your tiny ship against an entire world. Throw in an actually compelling 2-4 player co-op/versus mode called “Lantern Run,” where you and up to three friends must work together to solve puzzles and escape the encroaching Lantern Monster—all the while competing for the high score—and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is another more-than-worthy entry into XBLA’s Summer of Arcade.
SUMMARY: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is an old-school action romp that impresses with its simple-yet-engrossing gameplay.
- THE GOOD: Old-school Metroid-style exploration and backtracking
- THE BAD: Constantly referring back to your map and weapon wheel breaks the pace
- THE UGLY: Monstrous, screen-filling shadow creatures bent on your destruction