Next week is Super Stardust HD 10th Anniversary and during these 10 years Housemarque never disappointed me when I was looking for good arcade games, especially the already mentioned Super Stardust HD and Resogun. This week they have launched their new game, Nex Machina (Death Machine), a game that mixes some classical gameplay, top down twin-stick shooter, like Robotron or Smash TV, with the look, music and game design touches of Housemarque. Actually, original creator of both games, Eugene Jarvis, is creative consultant of this game and all started like a collaboration project that will be reflected in an upcoming documentary. It’s true that previous Housemarque games Dead Nation or Alienation used this kind of perspective mixed with twin-stick mechanics, but they weren’t as frantic.
The game features four different game modes, but the gameplay base is the same. Probably they will add some new modes or variations, as they did previous games. Right now the modes are:
- ARCADE: the classic game mode, there are 5 different worlds, each one with 15 different levels, including a final boss in the last one. There also are some secret levels, I’ve found one but honestly I don’t know how right now xD).
- ARENA: I think this mode will be the one that will make the game last. Here you can find different challenges where you can receive coins (Season Coins) which you can use to unlock new customizations or more challenges. Those challenges are score attacks with or without time limits, with game speed accelerated or scoring rules changed only to take into account human combos. In this game, score multiplayer is linked to rescuing humans. It’s structured in Seasons, which can last for weeks or months (still not clear) and in your profile you can see your leaderboard position in every single challenge.
- SINGLE WORLD: as the name says, just play in one of the five available worlds (once unlocked in arcade mode)
- LOCAL CO-OP: I didn’t try this, but I guess is Arcade Mode or Single World modes with the help of a second player.
You can also find “Feats” some kind of challenges that complete as you play. There are more than 200.
One thing the game is lacking is a tutorial or even instructions, you must learn as you play. Isn’t difficult to guess how it works, but there are some little details (like making a dash at the end of every level to gain some points) that can be a bit obscure. And I’ve to reckon that the game isn’t easy, at least during the very first moments. You can choose between five difficulty modes, some locked at first: Rookie, Experienced (the one I tried), Veteran and Master, and I think there’s another one hidden.
The game is a bit easier with the power-up you can gain and stack simultaneously: Triple Dash (and dash is really important), Dash Explosion, Shield, Weapon Range or Weapon Spread. You can get them by killing enemies, breaking boxes and blocks or filling a bar by killing enemies. And as far as I know, you lose one when you lost a life and all when you use a continue. Apart from that, you can also receive a secondary weapon that can be useful. You can only have one so you have to choose between Laser, Rocket Louncher, Sword, Smartbomb or Detonator (which you have to detonate after launching… something I learnt later).
As usual, here you can find a Live Gameplay video of the game where I try to do my best… but at least I think it shows most of the games features: