If I told you a game came out in which you must play it from the end to the beginning you would think I was crazy, right? Indie developer 24 Caret Games doesn’t seem to think so and after spending a good amount of time with their new game Retro/Grade, I don’t think so either. The game starts off with you winning the last fight of the game and the end credits start to roll. I was so confused that my jaw was hanging wide open and I actually said out loud “what the hell”? Then the game showed its true form.
While Retro/Grade appears to be a shoot-em up in reverse, it is really a rhythm game. When I realized that fact, I shuddered because I absolutely despise rhythm games. Still, I stuck with it and, thank you 24 Caret Games, you are the first company to make this guy enjoy a rhythm game.
In Retro/Grade you’ll do more than just tap the X button to match a beat. You actually have to dodge enemy fire and the match the beats at the same time putting your hand eye coordination to the test and this is yet another reason why I love it so. In a sense its an arcade game, like Galaga or Pac-Man, where you just zone out and really become one with the game. I love arcade type games that do that and sure enough I found myself doing this a lot in Retro/Grade.
The game comes complete with a campaign mode with multiple difficulties and also a challenge mode. I would highly recommend going through the tutorial so you understand what’s going on and how to play as it can be a bit confusing at first. The campaign consists of 10 levels and since you are going from the end to the beginning, you will start on level 10. The difficulty being played determines the amount of lines that will appear delivering back your gun fire. For example Beginner only has two lines whereas the hardest, X-treme, has five. The gun fire is the beats to the music in which you must time and tap the X button. Of course the harder the difficulty, the more of your gun fire returns to you on the lines. While all this is going on you must dodge enemy fire that is coming from behind. Since the game is in reverse, its amusing to see enemy ships reappear when your gun fire returns to your ship.
Challenge mode holds 130 challenges to test your skills. You are presented with a map with different challenges. You must beat the current one you are on to unlock the next challenge and there are secret paths to open up as well. Some of the challenges range from completely easy like simply get a multiplier of 5x, or ball busting hard like, don’t take any damage. Some challenges have the songs sped up or slowed down. Aside from just added gameplay, there is another point to challenge mode as well. Along the way you can unlock concept art, cheats, tracks to listen to in the music player and my favorite; different ships. Not to spoil them all but Indie game fans will love that a Super Meat Boy and a Minecraft ship is included as unlockables.
Of course no review of a shoot-em up would be complete without talk of the power ups. One of them gives the power to go forward in time in case you miss a beat or take too much damage. Be careful though as this is limited. A meter on the side of your ship will let you know how much more of the power you have left. And sometimes you’ll get a power up that will up your score multiplier as well. Another interesting concept, although not power-up related, is the ability to play the game using a guitar controller. However I didn’t have one lying around so I couldn’t try that out.
Retro/Grade is available for $9.99 on PSN or you can pay $14.99 and get the soundtrack included! I say the later is a steal as the soundtrack was phenomenal and provides over 50 minutes of original music. You can also buy the OST itself for $7.99.
All in all, 24 Caret Games has provided an original game with a good soundtrack and hours of gameplay!
- Addictive arcade fun
- Great music
- Lots of challenges in challenge mode
- Homage to retro games Example: I am Error and All your bass are belong to us stages
- Beautiful and colorful
- Hours of gameplay
Note: This review is based on the PSN version and was provided by the developer