Even though Futuridium EP has been out on mobile devices for over a year now, MixedBag has finally released a Deluxe version for the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita. This new Deluxe version gives players new gameplay modes, new levels, and a graphical overhaul. The only way to unlock these new gameplay modes, however, is to play the main mode, called Deluxe mode.
In this mode, and essentially in every mode, the goal is to fly your little spaceship through a small level in search of small, blue blocks. Usually lined up in rows, these blocks have to be shot with your ship’s machine gun. Every destroyed block will earn you points, and they can be destroyed in a quick succession to get combos, which increase your points even more. These are tricky to get, however, and really can only be obtained by using the boost button, which makes your ship faster but also makes it harder to turn, or by using the ‘turn-around’ button, which instantly spins the ship around. The ‘turn-around’ button is pretty useful for keeping up combos, and great to avoid crashing into things. After all the blocks are destroyed in a level, then one last swirling, white block will appear. If shot, the level is immediately over and you will progress to the next one.
In theory the game is simply, in reality it is actually incredibly hard. Each level features a kind of floating platform that happens to be in the middle of space. Although each platform is fairly small, navigating them is not easy, as they almost always will have various structures that seek to hide the blue blocks from view, or they might have rocket launchers or machine guns that will fire at your spaceship. Since the platforms are in the middle of space, you are able to fly over it, under it, the side of it — really anywhere, which is good because those blue blocks can literally be anywhere, too.
On top of having to navigate through these tricky environments, each level has a time limit. On the top right of the screen there is a little bar called “Energy.” This bar goes quickly over time, and can only be slightly restored by destroying those blue blocks. The bar also goes down if you die during a level. Dying occurs often, as homing missiles will track down your ship or you will simply crash into a wall that you maybe didn’t notice. Luckily, dying isn’t permanent — instead, you simply restart at the beginning of the level with less energy. All the blue blocks that you destroyed will still be gone, so you won’t have to literally redo the entire level.
The only time when death becomes an actual issue is when you run out of energy. When this happens, then you don’t come back. Instead, you are offered the change to use up a “credit” in a way similar to an arcade game. Using up a credit will return you to the beginning of the current level, but this time the blue blocks will have reappeared. The game starts you off with only one credit, and believe me, it goes quickly. When you have used up that one sad, little credit, then the next time you have run out of energy, it is game over.
Even though “game over” sounds bad, Futuridium EP Deluxe actually makes it even worse than it actually is. See, in Deluxe mode, which features 50 levels, checkpoints only occur at the end of every 10 levels. That means if you get a game over at level 9, then you have to start all the way back at level 1 again. If, of course, you get a game over at level 12, then you have either the option to start at level 10 or level 1, but that’s a pretty easy choice to make.
This setup makes the game not only indefinitely more frustrating, annoying, and difficult, but it also makes it incredibly repetitive. Two times while I was playing, I got a game over in the middle of level 10. After having a lengthy pity party, I restarted back at level 1, which has all the same structures, blue blocks, and turrets that it had before. Maybe I have simply gotten used to the numerous games that have randomly generated levels, but the fact that everything was still exactly the same really just made everything so much worse. Sure, I was able to complete the levels faster because I had already done them 10 times before, but they became dull, lifeless, and simply not fun anymore.
The only thing that kept the game slightly new for me was the music. Futuridium EP Deluxe lets users change the songs mid-level, and they have a huge amount of songs to pick from. Granted, all of the songs are all sort of the same retro, techno nonsense, but at least they differ slightly from each other. Playing the same level through again with a different song makes having to restart all the time bearable. MixedBag clearly put an emphasis on the music, and it somewhat pays off for them, although I still think having randomly generated levels would be better in the long run.
Besides focusing on music, it is clear that the developers also focused on the game’s graphics. Futuridium EP Deluxe clearly tries to pull off a retro look, completely with a blocky world and lots of funky colors. There is a sort of hazy quality about the game that makes the colors sort of blend together in cool ways, but it feels either like you are watching a 3D movie without the glasses or are just super high on some type of substance. It’s cool at first, but it soon becomes almost headache-inducing. Check out the slideshow images to really see what I mean.
The one last thing that I do want to touch upon is the unlocking system, where the total number of blue blocks destroyed can unlock new gameplay modes, skins, and, most importantly, more credits. Basically, every blue block that gets destroyed is recorded, and at various checkpoints, such as 250 blocks or 1,000 blocks, different things unlock. The extra credits are the most important and the most useful unlockable thing, but the gameplay modes are the most notable. There are a bunch of different modes, including a Single Level mode, where you can practice playing on any level you’ve encountered in Deluxe mode. This is fairly useful, but doesn’t really add anything new to the game. Actually, the only mode that does add anything to the game is the Flappyridium mode, which, as the name suggests, is essentially a clone of the hit mobile game Flappy Bird.
In the end, Futuridium EP Deluxe is a wildly difficult and repetitive game. It manages to stay fairly interesting by allowing players to change songs and unlock new gameplay modes and skins, but in the end players end up repeating the same levels over and over again with no variation in them. The game’s $10 price tag makes it buy-able, but you should still consider whether or not they want to spend $10 on Futuridium EP Deluxe or simply rent a movie for the PS Store. You might actually get a lot more out of the movie.
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