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Retro/Grade Review

Retro/Grade is quite a backwards game and I don't mean that in a negative way, 24 Caret Games describes it as a shoot 'em up in reverse but in reality it's a catchy rhythm game. The game starts with our intrepid hero, Rick Rocket, as he fires into the last enemy spaceship as he attempts to save everyone from the Exorians. And as you fire the final shot, Rick Rocket flies off and the credits roll, pretty quick and run of the mill side scroller right? Not really. As you destroy the last ship it causes an anomaly that reverses time, meaning that Rocket has to undo all of the destruction he caused along his path.

As Rick is traveling backwards, the action on the screen goes from right to left and most of the shots that you'll have to avoid and dodge will actually be shots from Rick's own ship that he previously fired at the enemy. Still following? And here's where the gameplay comes in, you must line Rick's rocket with the shots as they pass by and hit the X button in time with the shot as they draw close. In a way it's quite similar to Audiosurf or Rock Band and those familiar with past rhythm games should feel right at home with Retro/Grade.

Where the game gets tricky is when your own shots and enemy fire decide to come at you from both sides, picking lanes once things get hectic is quite the challenge, especially on the higher end of the six difficulty levels. Paying attention to the colour of the ordnance heading in your direction is vital, it's colour coded to a specific lane, think of it as the Rock Band notes but with a hell of a lot more movement. If it gets a bit to tricky for you remember that Rick Rocket's head is constantly bobbing in time with the beat you'll easily be able to get back on track if you lose your way. Every shot is animated spectacularly and enemy ships are recreated in front of you as you undestroy them with your laser fire, but luckily everything in Retro/Grade happens in time with the beat of the seriously catchy soundtrack which features over 50 minutes of electronic music.

If you do mess up a bit you can spend some of your ship's fuel supply to reverse the already reversed time and undo any mishaps. There is a score penalty for any fuel used, so if you're heading for a high score on the leaderboard it won't be very useful but it can be the difference between completing a level and failing in an exploding blaze of misery so use it wisely. 

The campaign is a relatively slender ten levels that never outstays its welcome and as mentioned before there are many difficulty levels to grasp. A challenge mode is also available straight away from the main menu that can remove some features of the story line such as limited fuel supply and zero errors.

Rock Band and previous games in the rhythm genre don't often generate praise from their graphical ability but it's really an eye-searingly colourful game with smooth 1080p graphics that run at 60 frames per second, both of which make the game feel like it has a vibrant heartbeat running though it, even the menus glow and bounce with movement. Particle effects glow and explode with vibrancy of a graphic equalizer.

Retro/Grade breathes new life in to what some consider a tired genre, with its quite unique gameplay creating a formula that is both fun and new. As with other rhythm/beat games it's relatively easy to pick up and play but ferociously hard to master, while perhaps a little short, it makes up for this with it's catchy soundtrack, bright lively visuals and funky gameplay. Make sure you try what's sure to be one of 2012's downloadable highlights.

Review Policy (Version tested: PS3/PSN)

Edited On 30 Aug, 2012

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