Sometime last week I was blathering on about a particular set of indie games, how they boil genres down to their essential cores, blah blah blah. One of the games I cited was Daisuke Amaya’s (Pixel to the ladies) immortal Cave Story, an independently-developed platformer that does Metroid better than Metroid often does. Now that Cave Story is in the hands of other talented individuals bringing it to the handheld market, Pixel’s free to work on other projects: namely, his new minimalistic PC shmup, Guxt.
What I said about getting down to the nuts and bolts of gaming couldn’t be more true in a game like Guxt. The game is, utterly and essentially, a vert shmup. It doesn’t get crazy like Ikaruga, or insane with powerups like — well, most every shmup since the mid-90s. The player is given two lives, no bombs, and five keys with which to play: four cardinal directions and a fire button. Powerups are limited to a small amount of weapon swaps. Life has never been so simple — come to think of it, neither has gaming for the last 15 years or so.
Where Pixel’s craft really shines is in the realms of art and level design, two key components that Guxt has in spades. Though the monochromatic graphics leave those of us aching for more of Pixel’s colorful world of Cave Story hanging, his sprite designs are absolutely extraordinary, and the music is just as compelling as fans have come to expect from Pixel’s games. What Guxt lacks in innovative gameplay it makes up for with creative level design and interesting enemy drops, keeping you on your toes throughout five levels.
It’s no Gears of War, but if you’re a shmup fan looking for a cheap (read: free) fix or just a fan of solid design, download Guxt v.8 and keep your eyes on Pixel’s site for more updates.
[Via the SA Forums]