[First of all, I’d like to apologise for the lateness of this weeks Indie Revolution. Due to having a lot of work to do and not having enough free time spare, I’ve not been able to get it written up. But here it is. So stop complaining and just enjoy – Chris]
As I said last week, I love the PixelJam guys, and Gamma Bros is the first game of theirs that I played that made me fall in love with them too. So much so, had they lived closer I would be pestering them with chocolates, flowers and letter of adoration. Everything about the PixelJam games just makes it a great experience to play, and Gamma Bros is no exception. You can play for free here, or you can read on and play it later. Whichever, but I’d preferably the latter.
Gamma Bros is a simple Robotron 2084/Smash TV- esque shooter that is more than just a shooter. Simply put, you feel for the characters you play as. There are a number of ways in whichPixelJam have made you sympathise with the characters, and these are very subtle ways at that. The two characters, Zap and Buzz, are barely into the double figures of the amount of pixels they use, and they are just simply trying to get home from work. Yet you feel you know these characters, and when one dies it has an impact because if they die, they are gone. Forever. No restarts, no respawns. If your little fella dies, you can kiss his sweet behind goodbye, and this really affects how you play through the game.
Firstly, let’s just say Gamma Bros is hard. I mean “balls-to-the-wall” hard, and it isn’t a short game either. From what is expected from a simple Flash game, Gamma Bros will be a kick in the nuts to the ordinary player. The difficulty level is extremely high and the game can last for in excess of 30 minutes at times. The amount of time you are spending with Zap and Buzz, however, is the first way in which an empathy for the characters is created. You’re watching them fly around the screen in their tiny UFOs trying to avoid the enemies on their way home, and this is for a long time. You begin to see that Zap and Buzz will do anything to help each other out. There are also points where nothing is happening and you’re just spending time flying around with the other brother. Had the game been pretty short, and nothing like it is here, then I doubt anyone would even care about the characters being there never mind feel for them.
But let’s get back to the difficulty level of the game. It’s so god damned hard, especially in the latter parts of the game. The first half or so is relatively easy, just helping you to get to grips with the controls and power ups. But then, all of a sudden, like a bat out of hell, it just ramps up turning the difficulty all the way to 11. You’ll be screaming around the screen, shooting blindly at times just to stay alive in the onslaught of spaceships trying to kill you for some reason, after all, you are only on your way home from work.
The health system also plays a big part in trying to attach you emotionally to the characters. A player only has 2 lives for each character essentially. First of all, there is the ship which can take a fair amount of damage. However, once the ship is gone, the brother is left to fly around the void with their jet-pack, and one hit equals instant death, and once a character is dead, they are dead. It can get very emotional to see one of the brothers explode in the final portion of the game, as you’ve spent so long with them by your side and then they’re just gone, leaving you alone. If you want to reach the end with both brothers alive, then you best have your wits about you as it is no easy feat.
The problem with Gamma Bros is that the average gamer who just plays Flash games, just to pass the time, will not get to experience the full extent of Gamma Bros, or the whole “buddy” idea, or the insane amount of fun that such a difficult game can bring from just making your way through another tough wave of enemies.
The reason why I love Gamma Bros so much is how subtly the emotional attachment with the brothers creeps upon you. Over the course of the 20 minutes to 30 minutes you begin to realise he will always be by your side no matter what, and you then grow to want to protect him too. Not only that, but it looks fantastic, is a ton of fun and, as usual, the music is brilliant.