Suit up and strap in for a colorful action-filled shooter with a really great name.
Graceful Explosion Machine is a 2D shooter where you play as a small but powerful spaceship. Each of the 40 or so levels feature several waves where you'll be attacked from all sides by alien enemies. Movement controls are very smooth, allowing you to quickly move back and forth and at times, seamlessly dash through enemy forces to safety. In order to progress, you'll need to clear out every wave using your navigational abilities and arsenal of weapons.
Learning and mastering each of the four weapons is crucial for success. The traditional blaster doesn't consume weapon energy but it does overheat if you fire it too frequently. The energy sword swings around your ship and hits enemies close by while the missile attack launches a barrage of homing projectiles at nearby enemies and the powerful sniper beam shoots straight forward and has amazing range. All weapons besides the blaster consume weapon energy which can be refilled by collecting crystals dropped by dead enemies.
Aside from the energy crystals, killing an enemy also awards you with points as well as increases your combo. Go too long without killing an enemy and your combo counter will reset back to one. Essentially, Graceful Explosion Machine features two layers of challenge: the first is to complete each level without losing all your lives and the second is to master levels by chaining your combo for high scores.
At the end of each level, you'll be graded based on your total points. The grades and points don't actually provide any sort of opportunity for upgrades and such but perfectionists and leaderboard climbers will be striving for those precious S+ ranks.
Graceful Explosion Machine's enemy variety is good. As you progress, you'll come across several new enemy types and attack patterns that you'll need to familiarize yourself with. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about Graceful Explosion Machine's level design. Each level is essentially the same, consisting of a long repeating corridor with a few rock formations in the way to alter your path. The lack of level diversity is the biggest flaw as it basically feels like you're playing the same level 40 times albeit with slightly different enemies.
Another downside is that Graceful Explosion Machine's visuals can get a bit messy at times. There are a lot of things going on at the same time including enemies and their projectiles, your weapons and missiles, and scattered energy crystals. Enemies also explode in yellow, orange, and purple clouds that tend to obscure the action. This makes for a bright and vibrant experience but it also means that you don't always see the enemy or projectile right near you until it's too late.
Graceful Explosion Machine boasts exciting and frantic shooting action, colorful visuals, and a well implemented combo scoring system. However, it's dragged down somewhat by a lack of creative level design and too many things happening onscreen at once. That being said, it's still a generally refined and overall enjoyable shooter.
- + Filled with vibrant colors
- + Frantic action with exciting weapons
- + Combo system and level rankings increase replay value
- - Levels all feel way too similar
- - Screen is really busy and often hard to see
- - If you're not into getting high scores, points don't really matter