Retro/Grade has been released on the PlayStation store for nearly a week now, and I’ve been playing it a lot throughout that week, is it worth the $9.99 it costs, well read on and you’ll find out.
Story: Retro/Grade’s story is an odd one, when I first opened up the first level I shot at a large alien spacecraft then the credits rolled and I was royally confused. Had I completed the game in the matter of a minute and a half? No! Our hero, Rick Rocket, action caused a temporary anomaly which reversed time. Now what seemed to be Rick’s final mission destroying the Exnorian armada, had become the first in protecting the Space/Time Continuum as he goes back through his famous battles firing every shot he made while dodging all the enemy’s fire.
The story isn’t showed in any matter or cut scenes, it tells you the story so far on the mission select screen, and lets just say, its quite a funny one; let me read out the description of one of the missions “Rick’s ship was damaged, so he went to planet Technotron to get it repaired. Fortunately, the damage was only to the seat heater, but Rick refused to fight without his butt properly warmed. The garage agreed to waive the repair fee if Rick fights off the invaders.” Fair to say, after reading that, I fell back on my bed laughing for a short while. It is brilliant, and makes me love Rick Rocket without even needing to hear his voice.
Gameplay: The gameplay is incredibly smooth, it’s like a 3-D shooting rhythm side scroller, mouthful I know. You can use the ordinary PS3 controller to play or you can use a Guitar Hero or Rock Band controller to play, I only have a GH controller on my Xbox, so I felt a little sad I couldn’t try it out. But with the controller, you use the X button to fire, and the left analog stick to move the craft, you can also overthrust with the R1 button, which luminates the screen with even more brighter beautiful colours in a sort of extra points mode, like star power in a Guitar Hero game. But one brilliant feature is that you can reverse time, so if you fail the level, it will tell you that you can reverse your mistakes by holding the circle button which I think is a brilliant feature (it’s not unlimited so you can fail!)
The game also has a very nice feature in the fact that if you complete a story level on a higher difficulty, if you find it too hard to do on the higher levels, you can drop down to an easier difficulty and all the levels you’ve completed will be available, so you don’t have to start again. There are two modes to play from, story and challenge, there are only 10 story missions, but there are plenty of challenges and plenty of unlockables, like new music and new crafts, and some of the challenges are pretty challenging and will keep you coming back.
Sound: The sound is where Retro/Grade shines, this game shines in so many ways, but it’s the sound that does it for me, it’s as if the epic music of composers like John Williams, mixed with the electronic greats Daft Punk had a baby, so Skyler McGlothlin really ought to give himself a pat on the back. The music is amazing and when it comes to a game like this which relies on rhythm to play, it is done exceptionally well. Without the rhythm, it’s like a music game without the music, it’s not the same without it.
Style: Retro/Grade is beautiful, the vividly made images of space, makes you feel like you’re really fighting in space, and the bright uses of color is done perfectly. Heck even seeing Rick bobbing his head on the challenge mode menu to the music makes me smile. The whole game makes me smile, it is so well done.
The style of this game is like nothing I’ve seen before, yes there is space, but so many games depict it as just dark and black with a few starts, but Retro/Grade’s vision of space is different. Once you play this game, you can appreciate it’s beauty, once you start playing it. It’s not just one same background, as Rick moves in his craft, the background moves and there’s plenty of backgrounds in the game.
Final Thoughts: Retro/Grade is beautiful, there aren’t many games that you come across that has the quality that Retro/Grade does. At first I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but I would buy this and have Guitar Hero as the little mini-game for it. As for rhythm games, this quite possibly the best I’ve played. I love listening to the music in this game. The whole game makes me smile, the story isn’t the whole generic hero saves the day sort of thing, it’s funny, it can have a laugh with itself. I’ve grown to like Rick Rocket as a character and he hasn’t even said one word and it’s honestly worth much more than just $9.99. I know I’m going to have a lot of fun with it, it’s so easy to pick up and play. But some sort of multiplayer would have been nice, it doesn’t ruin anything about the game at all though. I’ll still most likely play it again and get my friends to play it. 24 Caret Games, give yourself a pat on the back, cause this reviewer could honestly shake every member of your team’s hands.
Review by: Michael Robinson