Reviews// Every Extend Extra (PSP)

Why am I doing this again?

Posted 19 Feb 2007 18:00 by
The final major game-play element is afforded by the ‘quicken’ objects. These are dropped by pink enemies when they are destroyed, and cause the game to speed up when collected. This brings more enemies to you more quickly, thus enhancing your chances of gaining large scores.

Normally, the maximum number of quickens you can carry is six because once you reach that number the pink enemies stop entering the game area. However, if you wait before collecting the sixth quicken, you will be able to destroy another couple of pink enemies and reach the true maximum of eight quickens. When you do this, the game goes truly hyper, with enemies flying at you left right and centre, your opportunity for a high score is huge.

Like Lumines and Rez before it, Every Extend Extra uses a combination of action and music to deliver a truly unique experience. Each explosion, enemy movement and pick-up causes the background music to alter slightly causing a synesthetic effect. Collecting the quicken objects speeds up not only the enemies, but the music and animating backgrounds, giving an enhanced intensity to the game that is shockingly removed if you lose your quickens by crashing your craft. Luckily, when this happens your quickens are dropped and your next craft can pick them up again if you are quick enough.

Each drive has a different audio and visual feel to it, like the skins in Lumines, with enemy shapes and flight patterns, backgrounds and bosses changing as well as the music and sound effects.

So, it's a weird, unique game, but is it any good? Well, yes and no. The game play is involving and has the essential. ‘one more go’, factor that all good puzzle games need. However, it's monumentally difficult to get to grips with at first and it doesn't exactly fit into the puzzler genre.

EEE is less of a puzzle game than a shoot-em-up with a different central mechanic, blow yourself up instead of shooting the enemies, so there is none of the sense of learning how each level works that you get in a puzzle game.

The steep difficulty curve and the lack of learning curve make playing this game frustrating at times. This frustration is enhanced by the addictive qualities. More than once while trying to get past the first boss I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this again?" I persevered and eventually made it past, but it took me until well into my third game - with five continues each to get that far. Strangely, I was able to get onto the third drive quite easily after that, but had problems getting past the first again in my next game.

On balance though, EEE is an involving game that rewards repeat play, you will learn how to time your explosions, even if you can't put in place a cast-iron strategy for success every time. To a certain extent it's worth playing the game just to sample the audio/visual experience on offer. Just be prepared to be frustrated for a while when you first start to play.

SPOnG Score: B

Every Extend Extra is not as successful in encouraging progress as its stable mate Lumines, but it is still an engaging game that deserves a look if you enjoy the original Every Extend. The game play has that little bit extra, and I suppose that's where the overly alliterative name comes from.

Don't forget to read SPOnG's interview with Every Extend Extra's creative force, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, right here.

† A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a colour.
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