By Kevin Douglas Femmel
(Sept.24th 2011) — 24 Caret Games has a bona fide winner in Retro Grade, which is coming to the Playstation Network in Early 2012. It combines your favorite aspects of Guitar Hero, Prince of Persia, and all the old school shoot’em ups you’ve spend thousands of quarters on at your local pizzeria. The game at it’s core is a rhythm game, but to leave it at that would be selling it short. One of the developers was on hand to walk me through the game, as well as answer some of our questions. Click read more for the rest of this article as well as a video of one of the developers walking us through the mind bending Retro Grade.
Let’s begin with the game itself. You begin like any other game. You pilot a tiny space ship and quickly a gigantic space craft fills the right side of the screen and starts blasting away at you. You can move between three lanes on screen to dodge enemy fire. It doesn’t take long for you to take out the large space ship just with your normal weapons, and shortly after it blows up in flames you win the game. That’s it. The credits roll.
Ok, it isn’t over. It turns out what you just did, killing those bad guys who were shooting at you, you shouldn’t have done that. You tore a hole in the space time continuum. Dinosaurs may end up becoming the founding fathers of Colonial America. You jerk. Well, no dinosaurs won’t become the founding fathers of anything. You just need to go back in time and play the game you just played backwards.
Yes, backwards. The game rewinds itself and you are flying backwards. You must take back all the shots you fired. The shots you fired at the enemy ship at the beginning will come flying at you in the original lane you fired them from. You’re objective is to catch these much like you hit notes in any Guitar Hero or Rock Band game. A glowing orb will float in the lane you originally fired the shot and you have to catch it and strum the bar on the guitar controller at the right moment. You can also rewind time if you make a mistake (or die) by pushing down on the whammy bar.
Things get more difficult when enemies start firing at you from both sides of the screen. You have to repel their missiles from in front of you and behind you, all the while moving between three lanes and catching as many as you’re on coming orbs to the rhythm of the music. It gets a bit hectic, but it never felt out of control. At the same time, it isn’t something you master right away. Each song will have its own charm and you’ll always be one click away from recovering from the mistake you just made. Its like using a guitar controller to play an arcade shoot’em up while using the sands of time.
One of the two people working on Retro Grade at 24 Caret Games told me that they worked with a musician to create a soundtrack that was unique to the game and worked for the game. They didn’t want to license out any tracks from any big names, saying that additions like Lady Gaga would never fit in a rhythm game like this. However, he did say they were open to the idea of post-launch DLC with new music, but he couldn’t go into any specifics other than that.
He also expressed how Sony has been a great company to work with and that they’ve been given a great deal of freedom in developing Retro Grade. Retro Grade is a very unique game, possibly one of the most innovative cross over games I’ve seen in recent years. It mixes old school shooters with music games in a new and exciting way. I’ll be downloading the game as soon as it hit’s the Playstation Network in Early 2012.