It takes a lot of hard work to craft a worthwhile shoot 'em up with so many classics and modern takes on the genre already available. So, will this third iteration of Overdriven make shmup veterans' trigger fingers itchy?
Overdriven Reloaded: Special Edition is indeed the third version of this modern scrolling shooter. Considering I haven't played either the Xbox 360 Indie release or the PC version, I'm glad that I finally decided to check this game out in its most recent iteration.
It controls like most shmups where you weave through clouds of projectiles while holding a button to send a steady stream of bullets towards your enemies and deploying a bomb whenever you're in a sticky situation. A couple of interesting complexities are in play, too. First, a powerful shot that lowers your health bar to be merely a sliver is handy when you're in a pinch but make sure not to get hit while using it or else you'll likely lose a life. Next, you can swap colours in order to change the colour of certain blocks. Match three then they disappear so it's kind of like a puzzle. Overall, collecting power-ups and blowing the ever-loving heck out of your foes feels awesome. Oh, and did I mention you can play with up to four simultaneous local players, too?
The visuals of Overdriven Reloaded are well done in that everything is fairly clear to spot, especially the hazardous projectiles which stand out beautifully. Even though this clarity helps streamline the gameplay, the environments are pretty bland and unmemorable which is a bit disappointing. In fact, I don't remember any of them even after playing for hours. On the plus side, the music is a great mix of rocking electric guitars and orchestral pieces that fit the action perfectly. You can even listen to the soundtrack on its own in a convenient menu, too. In the end, Overdriven Reloaded: Special Edition is one solidly presented shmup.
When it comes to content, Overdriven Reloaded has tons to play through. For starters, story mode has 10 stages and four difficulty settings with Arcade and Manic variations for hardcore genre veterans who have something to prove. Plus, there are mini-games that include a list of challenges, a survival mode where you try to destroy every enemy before they reach the bottom of the screen, a boss rush mode, and a puzzle-like mode known as Color Reflex where you try and match colours in order to clear a path to reach each stage's exit. On top of all that, there are leaderboards for five of the included modes which is just awesome.
Besides the unmemorable stages, Overdriven Reloaded has a couple other downsides that detract from the fun. One thing that annoyed me is that it's hard to know exactly when you take damage. I wish there was a loud sound effect combined with a dramatic visual cue because I would sometimes look at my remaining lives and think, "How the heck do I only have one life left?!" Finally, there are a handful of very small issues that make the experience come across as unpolished. For example, there are plenty of spelling mistakes and I very rarely had the visuals freeze then start moving again. Needless to say, that threw me off.
My hat is off to the developers of Overdriven Reloaded: Special Edition. They managed to create an indie shoot 'em up that actually offers hardcore arcade shooting fun with plenty of bells and whistles that'll keep you blasting away for hours on end.
- + Tight shmup gameplay with cool mechanics that you can enjoy with up to 4 players
- + Unambiguous visuals and great music
- + Loads of modes and content
- - It's difficult to tell when you take damage
- - Environments aren't very memorable
- - A few minor things make it feel unpolished